TCU Baseball Preview: Part II

Ben Carruthers made just four errors all last season.

Ben Carruthers made just four errors all last season.

Feb. 20, 2008


FORT WORTH, Texas -  The 2008 schedule is one of the strongest in the nation as the Horned Frogs will square off against one College World Series participant and two Super Regional teams. Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle calls this the "most ambitious non-conference schedule that I've been apart of." In total, TCU will play 15 contests against teams that appeared in the postseason.

Five Top-30 teams appear on a schedule that features 32 home games and the Mountain West Conference tournament. The home field advantage has been huge since Lupton opened in 2003. Last season, the Frogs won a school-record 27 games and is 45-12 over the last two seasons.

Middle Infield
The middle infield should be the strength of this team. The Frogs return a number of capable infielders this season, but more importantly return their top two starters from a year ago.

Bryan Kervin (.290, 32 RBIs) and Ben Carruthers (.303, 31 RBIs) are a strong tandem and have two years of playing together under their belts. They combined for a .971 fielding percentage with just 16 errors.

The defense not withstanding, the duo can produce at the plate as well. Kervin is a career .317 hitter with 95 RBIs. In his two seasons at TCU, Kervin has started every game at shortstop.

Carruthers had a career-season last year hitting .303 with four home runs and nine stolen bases. His defense is outstanding with just four errors.

Also capable of filing in at either position is Corey Steglich (.314, 20 RBIs). He spent time at second as a freshman.

Corner Infield
Another strong area for the Horned Frogs, despite losing a player to graduation, the Frogs should remain strong at both corner infield positions.

The Frogs will replace a third base all-conference player with another when Matt Carpenter return to his spot on the field after missing last season with an injury. He has made just seven errors in his last two seasons.

Steve Ellington (.200, 4 RBI) is a natural infielder who played in left a year ago.

The coaching staff has a number of options at first base. Matt Vern (.319, 36 RBIs) blossomed into a good first baseman last year and may split time there this season. Steglich has also worked out at first and has shown he can play there as well.

Newcomer Relly Mercurio is also a candidate and has a lot of pop in his bat. If not in the field, he may be a possibility to fill the DH role.

Outfield
The outfield was one of the hardest areas hit last year with the graduation of Austin Adams and Keith Conlon. While centerfield looks to have a lock in Clint Arnold (.326, 39 RBIs), the corner spots are up for the taking.

Arnold spent some time in center when Conlon was injured and showed outstanding range. He is strong at the plate and has much-needed speed on the bases. Brett Medlin redshirted a year ago and could see some time in center.

Both corner infields have a plethra of options. Vern has spent time in the off-season working in the outfield. Matt McGuirk (.205, 18 RBIs) possesses a strong left-handed bat that will compliment the lineup. If not in the outfield, he could serve as the DH.

Four newcomers will also vie for some time in the outfield. Chris Ellington is the lone elder of the bunch and had an outstanding fall season. Freshmen Aaron Schultz also showed a strong bat, while Eric Givens is a switch-hitter. Zac Jordan will also make a strong push.

Catcher/Designated Hitter
The departure of Andrew Walker has left a big void behind the plate, but the coaching staff has plenty of capable options to chose from. The stress of the new schedule means there will most likely be a platoon system at catcher to keep guys fresh.

Bryan Holaday and Hunt Woodruff (.273, 12 RBIs) both have valuable experience behind the dish and will be called upon to carry most of the load.

Jimmie Pharr has an outstanding bat, according to the staff, and will compete for playing time as his defense improves.

Nestor Gonzalez will provide some depth at the position as well as helping out with bullpen duties in game.

Candidates for the designated hitter are plenty as the coaching staff will play the hot hands. The depth at each position gives the coaches options to rest guys when needed as well as to provide a spark off the bench.

 

 


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