“I’ve prepared myself my whole life for this. I’ve been not at the big-league level, but at the College World Series level, and those are still intense games. I kind of reminded myself about that. That’s what I felt out there.”
You can’t compensate for experience, as former TCU Baseball ace Alex Young found out earlier this week. After years of working his way up the minor league ladder, the 25 year old lefty was a last minute call-up for the Arizona Diamondbacks to start against the San Francisco Giants, and he delivered - allowing just one run in five innings of work on his way to his first career win.
Young starred for TCU in the early stages of a four year run to the College World Series, pitching in tough environments against Texas A&M and Omaha - where he famously carried a no hitter into the seventh inning before becoming the hard-luck loser in a 1-0 decision. Since then, he’s battled injuries and inconsistency, a demotion to the bullpen, and a temporary loss of confidence. But, it was all worth it when he hit the big stage and made the most of his first opportunity. Based on the results, it won’t be his last.
Young isn’t the only former Frog to get his Big League career started with the Diamondbacks; earlier this month, former TCU slugger Kevin Cron was finally promoted after absolutely dominating AAA pitchers in Reno to the tune of 26 home runs in 52 games. Cron was called up in early June, appearing in 22 games before being sent back down. He had ten hits in the Big Leagues - four for home runs - but struggled with a .213 average in 52 at bats. Since returning to Reno, he has five more home runs, and his 26 total leads the PCL despite playing in 24 fewer games than the second place player. That’s just crazy.
Though not at the professional level, another former Horned Frog pitching great has been making noise as he moves up the ladder, as Oakland A’s farmhand Brian Howard continues to dominate AA competition. Howard, who was named an All-Star, made his most recent start for Midland against Frisco, throwing seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts in a 1-0 victory. Howard, who has an ERA right around 3.00 this season, could see a AAA promotion in his near future, and the Big Leagues may not be far behind as he continues to do what he did in college - throw strikes and pitch deep into games. Here’s hoping we see him in the A’s green and yellow soon.
Recently drafted players have also had success; last week, rookie Johnny Rizer took Mets star Noah Snydergaard deep when the righty made a rehab start at the Short A level. Josh Watson got in the long ball act as well, hitting his first professional home run as part of a game that saw him reach base four times, score four runs, and hitting a triple that knocked in the game winner. Not a bad start to the switch-hitting slugger’s career.
Seeing players matriculate to the next level and have success is the key to TCU Baseball - it’s what convinces top level recruits to sign and play in Fort Worth as opposed to toiling away in the minors from 18 years old on. Here’s hoping there is much more to come for both the newly-drafted players and those getting their chance to play on the big stage.