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TCU 2015 Baseball Preview: Pitchers

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Morrison's masterful patience, a more experienced Tyler Alexander, and the showman, the gunslinger, our very own Kenny Powers; Riley Ferrell. This, plus what's probably the best bullpen in the country, puts TCU in great position to return to Omaha.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

TCU baseball is less than five days away, so I thought we'd start where the baseball program is best known; pitching. Borderline spoiled last year--or maybe just spoiled--TCU fans saw their own Brandon Finnegan, the hero from the 2014 season, become both a contributor to the Kansas City Royals' playoff run as well as the first player to pitch in both the College World Series and the World Series in the same year...

2015 should be more of the same; Morrison's masterful patience, a more experienced Tyler Alexander, and the showman, the gunslinger, our very own Kenny Powers; Riley Ferrell. This, plus what's probably the best bullpen in the country, puts TCU in great position to return to Omaha.

A Return to Arms

Preston Morrison

It’s hard to quantify just how important Preston Morrison has been to TCU. He began his illustrious career my senior year, in 2012. Now in this fourth season, Morrison is like a slow-burning le Carre novel--he doesn’t do anything flashy, but damn if it’s not masterful.

2014 Stats

W/L

ERA

Ks and K/9

WHIP

BB and BB/9

9-4

1.33

95, 6.58

.95

21, 1.45

When I was a little saltier on Twitter back in the day, I argued that Morrison will/would have a better (pro) career than Andrew Mitchell. As much as I adore Mitchell, I still stand by this statement. Despite a semi-slow start in 2014, Morrison hasn’t showed any signs of letting up. And judging by what I’ve heard his father say, and others close to him, last season’s early gaffe was a complete anomaly. Preston hadn’t ever pitched like that, and he likely won’t ever again.

Morrison, who had the 10th best ERA in college last year, has earned the Friday slot, and will likely shift into that spot. Given his pitching style, however, and how the ball moves in the warmer days as opposed to the cooler nights, the Saturday afternoon slot is most fitting for P-Mo.

Riley Ferrell

Riley Ferrell, brilliantly self-named La Flama Blanca--after the wonderful Kenny Powers--is the opposite of Morrison. He’s got a little of that Kenny Powers flare to him, but unlike the majority of Kenny’s run in Eastbound and Down, he can back it up. If Ferrell’s season goes anything like it did last year--especially with how Brandon Finnegan has proven himself and then some--Ferrell could easily be a Top-10, if not Top-5 Draft Pick come this summer.

2014 Stats

W/L, SV

ERA

Ks and K/9

WHIP

BB and BB/9

3-1, 15

.80

17/14.00

.76

14/2.80

Lupton, while on the smaller side of the elite ball-programs in the country, packs one of the bigger punches. And there’s no better player to match the rowdy crowd and hit the other team in the mouth like Ferrell.

Ferrell’s fastball, which consistently stays in the mid to upper-90s has a lot of personality to it, and somehow, he’s able to control it better than just about anyone in college baseball. His out pitch, his slider, is also brilliant. Ferrell didn’t play over the summer, instead opting to condition. And while it has yet to be seen if Ferrell will be a closer or sneak his way into the rotation, TCU’s version of La Flama Blanca has a very promising pro career ahead.

Tyler Alexander

My hopes for Alexander are high. He was thrown into the fire early, struggled a bit early, but developed into one of the most exciting young pitchers in the Big 12 and college baseball as a whole. His post-season run after the Big 12 tournament was a bit of a rollercoaster, but Alexander should be back to the guy he was in April and May of last year.

2014 Stats

W/L, SV

ERA

Ks and K/9

WHIP

BB and BB/9

10-3

2.36

59, 5.36

1.00

11, 1.00

Like Morrison, Alexander doesn’t walk many guys. And for a freshman, Alexander’s two complete games (CG) was an impressive stat. In a recent interview, he spoke on his maturity stating; "I pitched in the Big 12 Championship, Regional, Super Regional, and College World Series. It gave me a lot of confidence and maturity I didn’t have last year".

Alex Young

Should Ferrell not start, which is not likely at this point, Alex Young will be TCU’s best option for a third starter. Young, along with Ferrell was listed by Baseball America as a Top 300 prospect for the 2015 Draft. With these two things in mind, it’s a big year for Young.

Brian Howard

Howard will be hard to miss. The 6-9 righty from St. Louis has an excellent fastball--both in velocity and control. A power pitcher throwing the mid-week games is a dream come true for me, and it should be for you too. Keep an eye on Howard, he’s special.

The Nation’s Best Bullpen

Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics

TCU doesn’t hit for a lot of power, and for a team that looked as dominant as they did mid-April through the CWS, they don’t score a lot of runs. What I'm getting at is that, despite a great Starting Three, with the likes of Cron, Fitzgerald, and Boomer White gone, TCU’s RPG may deflate a little--which, we’ll get into that headache later this week. And thus the bullpen will be even more instrumental to this team’s success.

The Frogs survived boxing matches with Sam Houston State, Pepperdine, and Texas Tech, not just because of their Starting Three, but with their superb bullpen as well. And that's the same formula that's going to keep the sugar in the tank for 2015...

Trey Teakell

Should something go awry with one of the three weekend starters, or the mid-week guy, Teakell is next in line. And by all accounts, he could begin the season as the mid-week guy. For a kid that barely fits in his uniform, Teakell hits the the lower to mid-90s with his fastball, but really gets things done with his dirty slurve. He probably works best as Ferrell’s set up man, and that’s probably where I prefer him.

Travis Evans and Ryan Burnett

Evans and Burnett are two other names that could make a significant impact from the bullpen. While neither got significant mound time last year, from everything I’ve heard, both are primed, healthy, and eager to make an impact this year on the mound.

Brian Teaglaff and Mitchell Traver

Teaglaff is TCU’s second biggest impact arm in the bullpen. While Burnett and Evans are good in their own right, it’s Teaglaff that has the most experience. He can be inconsistent at times, and had some elbow issues in the fall, but I’m keeping my eye on Teaglaff. Also, Mitchell Traver--the 6-7 monster--should also be healthy and ready to an impact on this season.

The bottom line; is that TCU’s bullpen and starting pitching staff combined is second-to-none. This is as good as bullpen’s been in recent college baseball memory. Mix that in with the two of the best weekend starters you can ask for, plus a future Top-10 Draft pick as your closer and the sky’s the limit for TCU’s arsenal of arms.