Left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo, who turned down a $1.75 million contract after being drafted 41st overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in June, said he’s “all in” at TCU, where he appears to be headed for a rotation spot in the spring.
“It was a big decision, but I know I made the right decision,” he said Wednesday after the Horned Frogs’ last team practice of the fall. “I’m all in.”
Now that he is in school, Lodolo can’t return to the draft until he’s spent three years in Division I or turns 21 (unless he transfers to junior college). So the Frogs have secured his services and project him in a rotation with Brian Howard, Jared Janczak and another pitcher.
“There’s two spots up for grabs among about three or four guys. Lodolo certainly has a lead on that,” Schlossnagle said.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Lodolo said he was always leaning toward college rather than pro baseball, opting for TCU because of academics and coaching.
I learned a lot. That’s what I came here to do. I came here to learn in the classroom and on the field.
TCU pitcher Nick Lodolo
“Enjoyed getting acclimated to the program,” he said. “It’s a lot different than high school. Got to make the changes. I learned a lot. That’s what I came here to do. I came here to learn in the classroom and on the field.”
Schlossnagle said Lodolo showed velocity and a “pretty good” changeup in the fall scrimmages.
“He’s got a good breaking ball. I think it’s a pitch that can be better for him,” Schlossnagle said. “But he’s got a chance to be pretty special. Especially on a veteran team, we might be able to hopefully score some runs for him to where he doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.”
Lodolo, from LaVerne, Calif., said TCU first got his attention when the football team played in the Rose Bowl. Since then, TCU has played in three consecutive College World Series.
“Just through watching baseball on TV, and the College World Series playing UCLA, I’ve followed them ever since,” he said.
Lodolo is part of a 12-member signing class for TCU, which returns all but two position players and two relievers from last season’s 49-18 team that lost in the CWS semifinals to national champion Coastal Carolina.
TCU begins the 2017 season on Feb. 17 against Penn State. The schedule includes two trips to California and tournament games against LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
In other team updates, Schlossnagle said catcher Evan Skoug has an “arm issue” but should be ready to go in the spring. Skoug played for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in July, visiting Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba for games. “We’re just giving him rest. It’s no big deal,” Schlossnagle said.
Luken Baker will not pitch next season but will play first base in addition to designated hitter. “He’s a good first baseman,” Schlossnagle said. Baker led the team with 11 home runs as a freshman, including seven in postseason. He stopped pitching in April because of a forearm muscle strain.
Junior college transfer Austin Ingraham hit two home runs during the “Purple-White World Series” and will get a chance to play a corner outfield spot to balance the lineup. “If we face a really tough lefty, it’d be nice to have a right-handed hitting guy that we can plug in there,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s only ever played center, so he’s going to have to continue to work on the corner outfields if we need him to play there.”
Freshman signees Jake Eissler and Charles King made themselves candidates for the rotation, and Haylen Green was “a bright spot” in relief. “A lefty out of the bullpen that I think can really do something for us,” Schlossnagle said.