On Sunday, right handed pitcher Dawson Barr announced his intention to transfer from the TCU Baseball program, leaving after a freshman year that saw him make 13 total appearances, including four starts.
To the TCU community and the friends that I have made over the course of the past year at TCU: pic.twitter.com/0I1iSMmzIy— Dawson Barr (@DawsonBarr) June 23, 2019
Barr tweeted a few days prior to “always bet on yourself and never give up on something you believe in”, leading one to assume that he was not a part of the Horned Frogs’ long term plans after posting a 4.63 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 14 walks, with six HBP. That’s not unusual in itself - we were blasted with stories of how Jim Schlossnagle and Kirk Saarloos famously all but tried to get Jared Janczak to leave before he became and all-timer at TCU. It’s also not unusual to see players leave a private school program, where most are paying tens of thousands of dollars to play because of the lack of scholarships available in collegiate baseball.
What is unusual, though, is how many TCU Baseball players - including starters - have defected this summer as the program looks to remake itself after back to back disappointing appearances.
Barr is the second pitcher to leave, joining fellow righty James Notary, who announced his intention to transfer to Oral Roberts University earlier this month. Notary will be joined at ORU by former starting shortstop Adam Oviedo, who leaves the Frogs after two seasons that saw him make 106 starts in 108 appearances. Utility player Andrew Keefer is gone as well, a juco transfer who made 43 starts in 46 appearances. Australian Dean Frew, who came to the Frogs by way of Hill College is also out - though he played mostly in the late innings of games that were well decided - as is Brad Czerniejewski, a promising young outfielder out of Lake Forest, Ill, who was hitless in 10 at bats in 15 appearances last season as a redshirt freshman. Spencer Arrighetti, who left the team during the regional round, is out, as is redshirt catcher Nick Juaire. That’s eight guys, seven of who played in 2019, that won’t be a part of the 202 squad, leaving the Frogs with 19 players (after accounting for graduates and MLB exits) on what will eventually be a 34-35 man roster.
What makes this significant this off-season is that it follows something that hasn’t happened in a long time - Schloss hanging on to most of his recruiting class. After losing the majority of his top signees each of the last several years, only one player elected to sign with a pro squad after this spring’s draft, first rounder Quinn Priester. That leaves as many as 14 true freshmen matriculating to campus in the fall, plus a handful of juco players that are expected to be a part of the roster by the time school starts up again - we know of outfielders Cruz Shope and Ed Scott, as well as pitchers Harrison Beethe and Drew Hill. Juco recruiting is famously tough to follow, so that may or may not be a complete list.
As a refresher, here are your current class of 2019 signees:
Jacob Meador RHP 5-11 170 R-R Centennial (Burleson, TX)
Riley Cornelio RHP 6-3 193 R-R Pine Creek (Monument, CO)
Jacob Speaker RHP 6-4 210 S-R All Saints Episcopal (Fort Worth, TX)
Mason Speaker RHP 6-4 220 R-R All Saints Episcopal (Fort Worth, TX)
Zach Taylor RHP 6-5 183 R-R Granite Bay (Granite Bay, CA)
Harrison Beethe RHP 6-4 210 R-R North Iowa Area CC (Fort Worth, TX)
Drew Hill RHP 5-11 170 R-R Utah Valley University (Mayfield, UT)
Nolan Hudi LHP 6-0 172 L-L Calvary Christian (Safety Harbor, FL)
Will Martin LHP 6-1 180 L-L Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
Kurtis Byrne C 6-1 210 R-R Christian Brothers College (Chesterfield, MO)
Beau Wimpee SS 6-1 170 L-R Rockwall (Rockwall, TX)
Rhett Maynard SS 6-1 180 R-R Amarillo (Amarillo, TX)
Kaden Dydalewicz 3B 6-2 210 R-R Liberty Hill (Georgetown, TX)
Logan Letney OF 5-10 195 L-R Oak Ridge (Spring, TX)
Sam Thompson OF 6-0 187 L-R Owasso (Owasso, OK)
Tim McHugh OF 6-3 210 R-R Commack (Commack, NY)
Austin Plante OF 6-4 214 L-L Lake Travis (Austin, TX)
Cruz Shope OF 6-1 180 R-R Seward County CC (Fort Worth, TX)
Ed Scott OF 5-10 170 L-R Cloud County CC (Manhattan, KS)
Not all of those guys are going to make it to campus, and some will likely redshirt (TCU Baseball has a staggering ten seniors on the roster currently) to bring the roster down to 35. From a returning player standpoint, you’re probably looking at a rotation that includes Russell Smith, John Kodros, and Charles King, with Marcelo Perez and Caleb Sloan locking down the back end of ball games. Haylen Green, Jake Eissler, and Cal Coughlin will all be counted on to return to their early-career form as middle relievers and spot starters. Matt Rudis is a sophomore that could be a breakout candidate, and Augie Mihlbauer took a step back after an impressive freshman year, but should be an effective reliever in year three. True freshman Jacob Meador comes in highly thought of and could push for a role as a starter, as could both of the juco transfers.
In the field, Zach Humphreys resumes the starting role behind the plate after sharing it with Alex Isola in 2019, while Austin Henry and Hunter Wolfe handle the defense up the middle. The only returning outfielder currently on the roster is Porter Brown, who did not see the field in that role once before getting injured early in his freshman season. That leaves things wide open, with Shope, Letney, and Thompson your early favorites to win a role. Bobby Goodloe are your likely starters at the corners, but expect plenty of competition there; both were solid in 2019 at the plate and defensively, but several freshmen could push to find a place on the field, even if it’s not their natural position.
It’s going to be a very different look for TCU Baseball in 2020, but after back to back disappointing seasons (by our extremely high standards), that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With ten seniors - nine of whom played significantly this past season - it feels like one of the seasons that you absolutely have to make count.
It will be fun to see how these players come together to do just that.