There are fifteen new players listed on the TCU Baseball roster for the spring, the largest number I can remember seeing in years. They represented nearly half the total roster, and are a mix of freshmen and veterans, transfers, and juco ballers. Jim Schlossnagle secured commitments from 14 freshmen in the class of 2017, and of those, nine made it to campus and on the opening day roster - pitcher Shane Baz, infielder Jacob Gonzalez, and short stop Tyler Freeman all chose pro contracts, while pitcher/infielder Ryan Eiermann decided to go the juco route and Esteban Cardoza did not make the team. For an in-depth look at each freshman signed in the class of 2017, check out our recruiting recap from last spring.
Freshmen Position Players:
Adam Oviedo (SS): R/R, 6’0”, Grandview, TX, Alvarado HS
Coby Boulware (SS/2B): R/R, 5’9”, 165 - Anthem, AZ, Boulder Creek HS
Brad Czerniejewski (OF): R/R, 6’2”, 200 - Lake Forest, IL, Lake Forest HS
Tristan Hanoian (SS/2B): L/R, 5’8”, 190 - Costa Mesa, CA, Orange Lutheran
R.J. Lan (OF/1B/3B): R/R, 6’0”, 205 - La Mirada, CA, La Mirada HS
Austin Mihlbauer (LHP): L/L, 6’0”, 190 - Mukwonago, WI, Mukwonago HS
James Notary (RHP): R/R, 6’3”, 210 - Westminster, CO, Broomfield HS
Caleb Sloan (RHP): R/R, 6’3”, 215 - Centennial, CO, Regis Jesuit
Russell Smith (LHP): L/L, 6’9”, 250 - Midlothian, TX, Midlothian HS
Nine freshmen is a lot for a team that needs to fill six every day positions, so Schloss turned to some veteran help from the juco level, as well as one Pac-12 graduated transfer.
Transfer Position Players:
A.J. Balta, SR (OF/DH): L/R, 5’10”, 190 - Valencia, CA, Oregon
Danny Crews, JR (INF/SS): 6’4”, 175 - Springfield, MO, Fort Scott CC
Colton Parrish, JR (C): L/R, 5’10”, 185 - La Vernia, TX, Blinn College
Johnny Rizer, JR (OF): L/L, 6’0”, 185 - Cypress, TX, Blinn College
Conner Shepherd, RS SO (INF/3B): L/R, 6’1”, 205 - Upland, CA, Mt San Antonio College
Dylan Smith, JR (RHP): R/R, 6’3”, 205 - Southlake, TX, Weatherford College
Redshirt sophomore Conner Shepherd, a Californian who spent one season at Mt. San Antonio after redshirting for a season at FIU, is a lefty infielder who hits for contact and has good speed. He might remind some fans of Austen Wade in his approach at the plate. Juniors Johnny Rizer and Colton Parrish, teammates a season ago at Blinn College, bring veteran leadership to two areas that lost a lot from a season ago - Rizer started out at Louisiana-Lafayette and batted over .350 for the Bucs, with 11 home runs. He doesn’t have a ton of speed, but he does possess some serious pop, and is a good defender with a plus arm. Parrish fills a big need behind the plate, where Evan Skoug’s departure puts a heavy weight on Zach Humphrey’s shoulders. Parrish was a three sport athlete at La Vernia who was an all-state player in 2015 on the diamond. A good defensive player with a solid bat, Parrish can provide some relief for Humphreys at the catcher position. Danny Crews is another juco transfer in the infield, a native of Springfield, Mo, who gained attention for cheering against Missouri State in the Super Regionals after committing to TCU. He has a great bat and a .945 career fielding percentage as a shortstop, and hits for power - something the Frogs haven’t seen much out of the middle infield in recent years. AJ Balta is an interesting case - Schloss doesn’t often look to senior transfers, but the former Oregon Duck and freshman All-American is a potential day one impact player at the plate as a graduate transfer.
TCU brought in just one juco pitcher this season, junior Dylan Smith. From Southlake, Smith spent the last two seasons at Weatherford College, where the 6’3” righty amassed 61 strikeouts across 43 innings in his career.
2018 TCU Projected Lineup
|2B||Coby Boulware||FR||Boulder Creek (AZ)|
|3B||Conner Shepherd||RS SO||Mt San Antonio College (CA)|
|SS||Adam Oviedo||FR||Alvarado (TX)|
|CF||Johnny Rizer||JR||Blinn College (TX)|
|C||Colton Parrish||JR||Blinn College (TX)|
|INF||Tristan Hanoian||FR||Orange Lutheran (CA)|
|INF||Danny Crews||JR||Fort Scott CC (MO)|
|OF||R.J. Lan||FR||La Mirada (CA)|
|OF||Brad Czerniejewski||FR||Lake Forest (IL)|
2018 TCU Project Pitching
|RHP||Charles King||SO||TCU||Midweek Starter/Relief|
|RHP||Jake Eissler||SO||TCU||Midweek Starter/Relief|
|LHP||Augie Mihlbauer||FR||Mukwonago (WI)||Relief|
|LHP||Dion Henderson||RS FR||TCU||Relief|
|LHP||Russell Smith||FR||Midlothian (TX)||Relief|
|LHP||Haylen Green||SO||Lufkin (TX)||Relief|
|RHP||James Notary||FR||Broomfield (CO)||Relief|
|RHP||Caleb Sloan||FR||Regis Jesuit (CO)||Relief|
|RHP||Dylan Smith||JR||Weatherford College (TX)||Relief|
|RHP||Austin Boyles||RS SO||TCU||Relief|
By best estimation, the Frogs will have two true freshmen starting in the middle of the infield in second baseman Coby Boulware and shortstop Adam Oviedo. Both play beyond their years, and while they are certain to experience freshman growing pains, the thought of both being four years starters is reason to be excited for the future. RS Sophomore Conner Shepherd should be a steadying influence on the corner opposite Luken Baker, and brings a mature approach to the plate. Rizer is a good athlete in center with above average throwing ability and is a spray hitter at the plate. He’s not Nolan Brown in the speed department, but he can run, and has a little pop in his bat as well. Balta is a guy who was an imposing hitter early in his career, and who might benefit from a change of scenery. He can certainly provide a little protection for Luken Baker and maybe even get Josh Watson some better pitches to look at.
From a pitching perspective, the biggest change is, of course, Sean Wymer moving to the starting lineup, leaving a huge hole in middle relief. But guys like Charles King, Jake Eissler, and Cal Coughlin can fill the void.
We will have much more in the coming weeks on the makeup of the TCU Baseball team and the new faces, as we inch closer to the start of the season.