We have been so spoiled for the last two years with Evan Skoug.
The Frogs’ catcher has started 160 of 161 possible games over his first two seasons in Fort Worth, rarely missing even a single inning. He was so good and so consistent that his backup, junior Zach Plunkett, left for Arkansas this offseason, knowing he wasn’t going to get Skoug off the field.
From the time he stepped foot on campus he was leader; despite being just a true freshman, he earned the respect of an incredibly veteran pitching staff in 2015, working with future pros Preston Morrison, Alex Young, Trey Teakell, and Riley Ferrell to lead the Frogs to a then second-consecutive World Series. During that year, Skougie batted .285 while starting ever game, blasted seven dingers and 15 doubles, all while knocking in 46 RBIs and stealing five bags in eight attempts. As a sophomore, he would improve in every category - upping his average to .301, smacking 21 doubles, nine home runs, and a triple, while batting in 51 runs. He improved his walks from 46 to 51 and cut his strikeouts down from 50 to 47. Lastly, he was 7-7 in steals.
While his numbers were off the charts for a collegiate catcher, what truly endeared Evan to fans and teammates alike was the incredibly person he was off the field. Rarely without a smile, Skoug befriended honorary teammate Micah Ahern, often writing his name on the tape on his wrists or in the dirt behind home plate before games. It was an authentic love, like it was with the entire lineup, but it was clear there was an extra special connection between the college athlete and the brave young boy fighting for his life.
Skoug helped lead the Frogs to Omaha yet again, where he had six hits in four games, and returns for his third - and potentially final - season in Fort Worth. For Skoug, who will be draft eligible at the end of this season and rates as a top 50 MLB prospect, it’s championship or bust in 2017, and he will be a key cog for the Frogs to fulfill that dream. One area where I expect Skoug and the coaches to focus on this year is his ability to throw base stealers out - despite having a cannon for an arm, he threw out jut 18 of 39 base runners in 2016 and eight of 32 in 2015. That’s not all on the catcher of course, but if there is an area the pro scouts will want to see dramatic improvement in from him this season, that would be it.
With Skoug being so durable, TCU hasn’t much had to worry about depth behind him, but had a more than capable backup in Plunkett the last two years, if needed. Now, it will be true freshman Zach Humphreys tasked with filling those massive cleats if needed, though judging by the previous two years he will do more watching and learning than actually playing - hopefully. Humphreys comes to TCU by way of Midlothian High, where he was an All-State team member DFW Sports Day Offensive Player of the Year as a senior after batting .515 and drawing 38 walks.