It wasn't so much running out of steam that led to a premature exit from the 2014 College World Series, but more so a ballpark that exposed TCU's biggest, and really only weakness. Granted, even if your only weakness is an inability to capitalize on offensive opportunities, it's still a pretty big weakness.
Considering where TCU was in March, the finish, while disappointing now, would've seemed like a miracle then. But fear not for 2015. It's going to be pretty fun.
Three Kings Redux
TCU's starting 3 last year was arguably the best in school history, especially when it settled down and found its groove in early April. Though it's only losing one of the pieces, it's certainly a big piece. So who becomes the third starter?
Friday: Preston Morrison
When it's all said and done, Morrison will be the most storied pitcher, if not player in TCU history. 2015 will be a huge year for P-Mo because in addition to building off last year's success and making (potentially) an even deeper run, Morrison will also be looking to silence the scouts and critics who don't believe a ground-ball pitcher deserves to be drafted.
While they may have a point 95% of the time, you watch Morrison and you see so many comparisons to Greg Maddux. It's not just from a playing standpoint either, Maddux was also overlooked by scouts because he couldn't hurl it in the mid-90s consistently.
Saturday: Tyler Alexander
Not sure how Alexander fell off so bad in his last two games. But with a year of experience under his belt, the future sophomore, who led the Horned Frogs in wins, is primed to become one of the biggest names in the Big 12.
Sunday: Trey Teakell
Even if Kipper doesn't sign, I like Teak starting the Sunday games. At least initially. Teak went 6-1 this year with a 2.34 ERA and 41 strikeouts in only 61.2 innings. I like the idea of going righty, lefty, righty too.
La Flama Blanca: Riley Ferrell
Finishing off the Mt. Rushmore for TCU pitching is probably its most naturally gifted. Ferrell's 2015 season should be a blast, because at this point, he's looking like a Top-10 pick for next year's MLB Draft. Ferrell will only want to improve his draft stock, and I can't even wrap by head around what an improved Ferrell will look like. It's going to be fun.
New Kids on the Block
Delso the next catcher?
It seems to be looking that way. We haven't seen much of Dylan Delso, but the shoes he has to fill are pretty big. Just in the past 4 seasons, Schloss has had Bryan Holaday, Josh Elander, and most recently Kyle Bacak. Not a bad list.
Filling in for Fitz
With Dylan Fitzgerald graduating, there's now a vacant spot in right field. Fitz's arrival seemingly came out of nowhere. The once-transfer contributed significantly at the plate and was one of the highlights of the TCU offense. Who takes over? Don't hold me to this, but at this point I'll say Jeremie Fagnan.
The Calgary native spent two years at Midland College where he was named the ABCA/Rawlings NJCAA Player of the Year. Fagnan's bat could very well fill the gap that Fitz will leave behind. During his 2013 season at Midland, Fagnan hit .419 with 6 home runs, collected 77 RBIs, 21 doubles, 11 triples, and a .665 slugging percentage.
Searching for a DH
With Suiter leaving, the guy who I'd say is primed to take over the spot is Connor Castellano. Schloss loved putting in Castellano for Suiter when he needed to, so perhaps that was some clever foreshadowing.
The New Mid-Week Guy: Alex Young
Assuming Kipper doesn't come back, I like Young as the mid-week guy. He was a little spotty this season, but he's the most proven name left on the staff for this role. Plus, with two rightys in the Starting Three, I fancy a lefty for the Mid-Week games.
The New Set-Up Man: Brian Trieglaff
What I saw from Trieglaff in person, at the Sam Houston State game, was promising. The Houston native could be a perfect fit for the role that Trey Teakell had in 2014.
Other Name to Watch: Brandon Gilson
The 6-5, 225 pound lefty from Prosper, TX raises eyebrows for obvious reasons. He was a standout in high school, tallying over 330 strikeouts in three seasons and had a 1.57 ERA his senior year. He'll need to groomed, but Gilson is a very intriguing pitcher and could make a big name for himself next year.
Cron will be missed. But one of the most exciting changes of next season will be the rise of Michael Landestoy. He hails from the Dominican Republic, the nearly undisputed Mecca of baseball. At 6-2, Landestoy brings in some good size and will likely pack on some more muscle this fall.
Defensively, he's promising. He's good smooth hands and picks the ball really well. But where Landestoy brings the most interest is at the plate. He's got solid power, but what should excite TCU fans most is that he's a line-drive hitter. Look for him to drive a lot of balls up the middle and possibly remedy TCU's ailing offensive production with RISP.
If I Could Make the 2015 Line-Up
1. Cody Jones, CF
2. Garrett Crain, 2B
3. Boomer White, LF
4. Michael Landestoy, 1B
5. Jeremie Fagnan, RF
6. Derek Odell, 3B
7. Connor Castellano, DH
8. Keaton Jones, SS
9. Dylan Delso, C