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2023 TCU Baseball Preview: Infielders

Third baseman Brayden Taylor headlines a slew of returning starters for the Horned Frogs.

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The TCU baseball team will open the 2023 season with a three-game series against Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Missouri at Globe Life Field from Feb. 17-19. Expectations are high for the Horned Frogs, who went 38-22 and won the Big 12 Conference regular season title under first-year head coach Kirk Saarloos, who took over the baseball program from Jim Schlossnagle. The Horned Frogs are returning a slew of starters including key starters on the infield, where we’ll begin our series of previews for the upcoming 2023 season.

The Horned Frogs are replacing two starters from last season including shortstop Tommy Sacco, who enjoyed a career-best season in 2022 with a .355 batting average as well as 14 home runs and 58 RBIs. TCU also lost second baseman Gray Rodgers, who held a .283/.381/.409 slash line for his career. The Horned Frogs found an immediate contributor from the transfer portal in former Baylor infielder Tre Richardson, who projects as TCU’s next starting second baseman. Richardson held a .295/.387/.435 slash line with seven homers and 75 RBIs for the Bears, earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mentions for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Also expected to play is freshman shortstop Anthony Silva, who was the No. 74 overall prospect and No. 14 Texas prospect by Perfect Game for the 2022 draft.

TCU’s corners remain the same for the 2023 season, with Brayden Taylor returning for his junior season at third base while David Bishop retains the first base role for his sophomore season. Bishop made the Big 12 All-Freshman Team last season, slashing .261/.345/.399 with six homers and 47 RBIs. Taylor has been one of the best players in college baseball during his time at TCU, compiling a career .319/.450/.574 slash line with 25 homers and 103 RBIs. Behind the dish will be fourth-year junior Kurtis Byrne, who took over the starting catcher role when former Washington transfer Michael Petrie suffered an injury last season. Byrne has shown flashes with his bat over the last two seasons and holds a career .282/.367/.435 slash line with six homers and 54 RBIs. Byrne had 42 assists and only four errors in 2022.

One player to keep an eye on will be JUCO transfer and former Washington infielder Cole Fontenelle, who batted .381 with 15 homers at McLennan Community College in 2022. Fontenelle earned 14 starts for the Huskies in 2021 and could be TCU’s first infielder off the bench as well as a possible extra bat for the Horned Frogs to deploy at the DH slot.

TCU’s infield should flex a lot of power in the starting lineup, with Taylor and Bishop having experience hitting from the heart of the batting order. Richardson’s speed and contact ability make him a candidate for lead-off status, with the former Baylor transfer stealing 15 bases over the last two seasons. The Horned Frogs are looking to build on a 2022 season where TCU finished in the middle of the conference in several offensive categories including average (.270), on-base percentage (.382), homers (62), RBIs (394) and runs (428). The Horned Frogs were one of the better defensive teams in the Big 12, finishing third in fielding percentage (.978) and tying for second in fewest errors (48).