In a move that is surprising but makes a lot of sense, TCU sophomore Luken Baker has decided to focus on hitting in this, his second season with the Frogs.
Baker began his freshman season as the Friday night starter, starting in 10 games before an injury forced him off the mound. But he was good enough in his limited time to earn All-American honors as a two-way player, as he posted a 1.70 ERA with 41 strikeouts on his way to a 3-1 record. Baker was an absolute force at the place though, where he batted .379, knocked in 62 runs, and mashed 11 long balls. His post-season prowess became the stuff of legend, as he hit bomb after bomb in the biggest of spots and on the biggest of stages.
While losing a pitcher of Baker’s stature would be a blow to most pitching staffs, it should be okay for the Frogs, if they can stay healthy, as they boast one of the deepest staffs in the country. The choice was Baker’s, according to Jim Schlossnagle, but surely the somewhat surprising returns of seniors Brian Howard and Mitchell Traver probably gave him the confidence to do so.
“He feels like that’s the best route for his future,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re confident in our pitching staff that we can absorb that.”
In addition to Howard and Traver, TCU returns studs Jared Janczak, Dalton Horton, and Durbin Feltman as well as welcomes promising young players like Nick Lodolo and Charles King - part of the eighth best recruiting class in the country.
It will be interesting to see how Schloss lays out his staff, as well as if Baker is an option to return to the mound as a junior.
In other baseball news, the Frogs released the 2017 schedule, which is highlighted by a visit from Penn State, a trip to Houston to face Ole Miss, LSU, and Texas A&M, and a late year trip out west to face Cal. You can see the schedule in its entirety here.