College : : Story
Thursday, February 22, 2018

Quick Take: Texas Christian

Mike Rooney        
Photo: TCU Athletics

 Quick Take: North Carolina | Quick Take: South FloridaPerfect Game College Player Database

During the season Perfect Game scouts will be traveling to some of the top series to watch the very best players in college baseball. Those observations, captured with both written notes and video, will be shared in the College Player Database as linked above, notes that can also be accessed on the players' individual PG profile pages. Throughout the season select reports will be shared in feature format to promote the players, the teams and college baseball as a whole.

TCU Horned Frogs

What Happened: The Horned Frogs opened Grand Canyon’s gorgeous new facility, and while they won two games, they could have easily swept the series.  They survived a gallant effort by GCU ace Jake Wong in the opener, scoring three in the ninth to secure a 3-2 victory.  Game 3 of the series was quite sloppy but TCU took an 8-6 lead in the top of the 12th, only to surrender three runs in the bottom of the inning and get walked off by the ‘Lopes.

Carrying Tool: Jared Janczak’s slider and a winning culture will take you a long way.  Janczak has 16 career wins and a 2.45 ERA over 22 career starts and this is a pitcher who knows how to navigate his way through a game.  He gave up one run in a shaky first but settled down to punch out 11 hitters with his lethal slider.  Janczak’s effort allowed the Frogs to settle down and find a way to win the game.  Which is exactly what this program knows how to do.

Concerns: The non-Janczak aces must ace and Luken Baker must reverse his injury misfortune for this team to reach its potential.  This TCU rotation has massive upside but Nick Lodolo’s stuff must be sharper than it was in this outing and Sean Wymer must stay out of the middle of the plate.  Both were hit hard and surrendered a home run in this series.  Baker missed Game 2 after taking a ground ball off the eye at the end of Game 1.  He showed his toughness by playing Game 3 but this is one of the nation’s scariest hitters and he must stay on the field.

Best Player on the Field: The bullpen duo of Cal Coughlin and Durbin Feltman combined for six shoutout innings and they allowed just one baserunner.  Repeat, they allowed just one baserunner total in six innings.  Feltman caught the attention of the scouting community by dominating with a 94-96 mph fastball and a hammer curveball at 85 mph.  He struck out five of the 10 hitters he faced.

Fearless Forecast: TCU has a winning culture and star power.  Most importantly, this coaching staff is elite when it comes to player development.  Josh Watson looked great and he appears ready to become a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat.  The true freshman middle infield of Adam Oviedo and Coby Boulware was plenty good as well.  Advancing to Omaha five years in the row is a very tall task but the Frogs have everything they’ll need and more.  I’m betting on the upside.

Database Player Reports (4):

Luken Baker
Durbin Feltman
Nick Lodolo
Sean Wymer

Prospect Spotlight: Luken Baker, 1B

Video taken during 2017 season

Baker is one of the more famous players in college baseball, and at 6-foot-4, 265-pounds, he is also one of the biggest.  Baker’s physical body looked great as he apparently dropped seven percent body fat in the offseason while maintaining his weight. On top of that, reports of his plus makeup were readily apparent. This is a sharp kid who is by all accounts a great teammate and he is more baseball player than behemoth.  

Baker’s batting practice is by itself, worth the price of admission. To say the ball explodes off his bat would be the understatement of the century. He does not hit the baseball with much loft so it seems likely that he will knock an outfield fence down one day soon. If there was a criticism of Baker (the hitter) early in his career, it was that he was too quick to defer to a single to right field. Because he strikes the baseball with such violence, his batted balls are nearly impossible to defend. Thus, a base hit is readily available to him and that was evident when he rolled over for a single in the 5-6 hole. The ball was hit too hard to defend.

Baker took two walks in TCU's third game against Grand Canyon to open the 2018 season which seemed to be the result of hunting pitches by which he could do bigger damage. To that end, he did hit a home run on a 1-1 curveball in the fourth inning. It was a sight to see as the ball left the stadium so fast that the outfielders did not so much as flinch.  

Baker hits from a wide stance and it’s hard to tell if he generates much momentum. But then again, it doesn’t seem to matter because of his superhuman strength. He manages the strike zone and uses the whole field so it’s hard to find a hole in the boat from a hitting standpoint. He does have a reputation as a poor defender and Baker was in fact injured on a misplayed ground ball that struck him above the eye in the second game of the series. Thankfully, he was able to DH in game three of the series after getting stitched up.  

While there is an obvious ceiling created by his defensive profile, Baker checks virtually every other box for an offensive corner player.  This is a bright, tough, mammoth kid who has feel to hit. As he learns to exploit his considerable power, his upside is scary. And if that doesn’t convince you, he doesn’t use batting gloves and wears his uniform with his socks up. The bottom line is that Baker is a throwback player with extraordinary talent.

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