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TCU Freshmen Earn All-American Honors

Four first year players were recognized by the preeminent name in college baseball, Louisville Slugger, for their performance on the field this season.

Melissa Triebwasser

It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for TCU Baseball, who graduated their starting rotation and the entire infield, save the catcher.

They were too young to make too much noise in the Big 12, who saw many of the best players in the conference return to other teams, while the Frogs lost more star power to graduation and the draft than anyone else.

Our expectations were realistically low, what with Nolan Brown and Mitchell Traver down early, and Brian Howard missing chunks of time late.

Plainly, there were just too many freshmen being counted on in too many roles. Maybe next year.

Well, here we are, just a few days away from playing in our third straight College World Series, after making a third straight appearance in the round of sixteen. And much of TCU Baseball's success has been on the backs of those freshmen that were thought to be just a little bit too young to make too big of an impact in 2016.

Last week, four such freshmen were named to the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American team to recognize their individual accomplishments and how those led to incredible team success. It's the most single-season selections for TCU Baseball in their history.

Luken Baker, who was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 Championship, was honored at the DH position, and had a muscle strain not cut his pitching season short, he was on track for a dual honor. Baker, who hit four home runs in five games in Oklahoma City, hit .382 on the year - best in the conference - with 54 RBIs. He was also a part of the Fort Worth All-Regional team this past weekend.

Joining Baker on the team is pitcher Durbin Feltman, Luken's high school teammate and one of the more promising young arms in college baseball. Feltman, who stepped right in to the big shoes left by TCU's previous closer, Riley Ferrell, collected seven saves on the year to go with a 1.88 ERA and 41 strikeouts. He was also the pitcher of record for TCU's Big 12 Tournament Championship victory. The flame throwing righty has developed some nice complimentary pitches as the season has progressed, and has an incredible future with the program - whether that's out of the pen or in the rotation.

Another exciting young arm for the Frogs is Dalton Horton, who became TCU's most reliable pitcher down the stretch, as he was pressed into duty with injuries mounting. Horton went 8-0 in 12 starts, posting a 2.58 ERA as he held opponents to a .215 average.

Last is left fielder Josh Watson, an Arlington product who led the team with 11 home runs on the season, including a massive dinger on the first pitch he saw in the post-season, against Baylor, to straightaway center in a minor league ballpark. Watson, who also hit one into the street in Wichita in a series against the Shockers early in the season, is one of only four Frogs to start all 60 games. With deceptive speed, Watson was a terror on the base paths for opponents - stealing 11 bags and stretching singles into doubles and doubles into triples with regularity.

While the biggest test awaits these four impressive young players this weekend in College Station, the future is certainly bright for them in Fort Worth. With each having a minimum of two more seasons at TCU (and hopefully a few more weeks in this one), it's no stretch to say that the best is yet to come for them, and the program as a whole.