Though football is still in season and basketball is just starting to heat up, it’s never too early to look ahead to baseball, and the promise held by the 2017 club. With pitchers and catchers just weeks away from reporting, MLB.com put together a list of their top 50 prospects in the class of 2017, and TCU’s junior catcher, Evan Skoug, was ranked 29th.
Skoug, who hails from Illinois, was a top prospect coming out of high school, but dropped into the late rounds after reaffirming his commitment to TCU and Jim Schlossnagle. And Frog fans are certainly grateful for that, as he has started every meaningful game behind the plate since his arrival as a true freshman.
Skoug has improved at the plate each season he has played, becoming a complete player in the process. A career .293 hitter, he has played in 130 of 131 possible games over the course of his first two seasons in Fort Worth, proving to be a durable and reliable leader at one of the most important positions on the diamond. He has managed a veteran pitching staff with aplomb, possessing a preternatural calm behind the dish, framing pitches with precision, and helping build one of the best staffs in the nation. Meanwhile, he hit 21 doubles, a triple, and nine home runs in his sophomore season, improving in each category. He also has 97 runs batted in over the course of the last two year. The Frogs have won a Big 12 Championship, a Big 12 Tournament Championship, hosted two Regionals, a Super Regional, and made the College World Series twice in his career.
With his junior year looming, Skoug will have a tough choice to make at the end of his season, one that has National Championship aspirations. With his required three years of service expiring, he will be eligible for the MLB draft, should he choose to leave school early. The Frogs have a mixed history of players choosing to stay or go, but Evan is in line to be the first position player chosen in the first round out of TCU, and the temptation for a player in a position that is that physically demanding will be high. Especially when he is clearly thought so highly of by the brass in the Big Leagues.
Scouts rated Skoug as a top-three-rounds talent as an Illinois high schooler in the 2014 Draft, but he plummeted to the Nationals in the 34th round because he was set on attending Texas Christian. He immediately batted cleanup for the Horned Frogs and helped them reach the College World Series in each of his first two seasons. He's the best prospect among full-time catchers in the 2017 college class, which could make him the first TCU position player ever taken in the first round.
Skoug's offense definitely grades out better than his defense. With his compact left-handed swing, impressive strength and good bat speed, he drives the ball to all fields. He's similar to 2016 Angels first-rounder Matt Thaiss, with Skoug offering a little less batting average and a little more power.
Thaiss shifted from catcher to first base as soon as he turned pro, and while Skoug is better behind the plate, scouts believe his limited athleticism and quickness may force him to make the same move. He's an adequate to average defender whose quick release helps him get the most out of his fringy arm strength. He earns praise for his work ethic and leadership skills.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
You can see the entire list here.
TCU Baseball’s season begins on Friday, February 17th, when they host Penn State for the first of a three game series.