TCU baseball is less than one week away from beginning the 2024 season with a three-game series against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday, Feb. 16. The Horned Frogs are eager to build on a magical 2023 campaign that saw TCU win the Big 12 Conference tournament and advance all the way to the College World Series, clinching NCAA Regional and NCAA Super Regional victories along the road. The Horned Frogs went 44-24 overall during the 2023 season, which was TCU’s second under head coach Kirk Saarloos, who now enters his third season in the dugout. Below is a season preview featuring TCU’s left-handed pitchers.
Ben Abeldt (‘24, Elig) with one of the more difficult looks you will see, the @TCU_Baseball lefty works hard cross midline with a low-3/4 arm angle, FB 90-93 with heavy sink and frisbee SL in the low-80s #CNT pic.twitter.com/0jyd8ydJSK— PG College Baseball (@PGCollegeBall) June 28, 2023
Sophomore Ben Abeldt emerged as a go-to weapon for the Horned Frogs as the 2023 season progressed. Abeldt overcame early struggles and finished the season with a 3.60 ERA as well as 71 strikeouts and a .237 opposing batting average over 55 innings pitched. Abeldt earned multiple Freshman All-American honors and should be counted on as a big-time contributor for the 2024 season after logging 32 appearances for TCU in 2023. The Horned Frogs are losing one left-handed pitcher from last season in River Ridings, who struggled to recapture his freshman-year form and entered the transfer portal.
#TCU has landed West Virginia LHP Ben Hampton out of the transfer portal. Big addition for @kirk_saarloos and his staff.— Jamie Plunkett (@FrogPreacher) June 14, 2023
Read what Hampton had to say about his commitment when he checked in with HornedFrogBlitz #FrogballUSA | @TCU_Baseball https://t.co/AwHn0gEr3T
TCU also returns sophomore left-handers Braeden Sloan and Chase Hoover, who served as the team’s midweek starters for most of the 2023 campaign. Sloan recorded a 6.63 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 28 walks over 38 innings pitched in 10 starts, while Hoover posted a 5.14 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 26 walks over 35 innings and 13 appearances with four starts. A new left-hander who could make an impact out of the bullpen is former Arkansas hurler Zack Morris, who arrives as a graduate transfer after four seasons with the Razorbacks. Morris made 61 appearances and held a 4.77 career ERA while at Arkansas.
TCU LHP/1B Payton Tolle could be a guy who rises up teams boards this spring. Recently transferred from Wichita State where he slashed .311/.516/.361 with 13 HR. Tolle hits the ball really hard where he led the country with a 90th percentile EV of 110.7 mph and a max EV of 119.5… pic.twitter.com/G7tThNZWxT— Draft Analyst (@Draft_Analyst_) October 19, 2023
Perhaps the two most notable pitching transfers secured by the Horned Frogs are lefties Ben Hampton and Payton Tolle. Hampton arrives after earning All-Big 12 First Team honors during the 2022 season. Hampton spent three seasons with the Mountaineers, posting a career 4.62 ERA over 222 innings pitched with 41 starts. Hampton struck out 203 batters during his time at West Virginia and will be aiming to carve out a significant role with the Horned Frogs in 2024. Tolle logged 152 innings and 26 starts over two seasons at Wichita State, recording a 4.56 ERA with 146 strikeouts and 41 walks during that time. A two-way star, Tolle also slashed .313/.359/.516 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs at Wichita State.