Summer work has TCU pitchers pushing for spots in rotation

TCU junior Alex Young, who is scheduled to start Sunday in Game 3 of the season-opening series, pitched in the Cape Cod League over the summer.
TCU junior Alex Young, who is scheduled to start Sunday in Game 3 of the season-opening series, pitched in the Cape Cod League over the summer. Star-Telegram

Pitchers Mitchell Traver, Brian Howard and Alex Young all pitched in summer leagues, and that helped them take “a pretty big jump,” Schlossnagle said, in their bid for the starting rotation.

That’s a key area for the Horned Frogs, who return Preston Morrison and Tyler Alexander but lost 181 innings with the departures of Brandon Finnegan and Jordan Kipper.

Young pitched in the Cape Cod League, Howard and Traver pitched in the Northwoods League.

“Alex needed to go up there and get starts, learn how to become a better starting pitcher,” Schlossnagle said. “And he did. Bryan Howard did the same thing, and so did Traver. All three of those guys, I really like them, so we have five guys competing for four rotation spots. But whoever the fifth guy is, he’s going to pitch.”

Traver pitched five innings in the alumni game, giving up two hits, one earned run, walking two and striking out five.

Young is scheduled to pitch Game 3 of the season-opening series on Sunday.

“After a long season last year, pitching in the World Series, we don’t dont really send the guys out for summer anymore,” Schlossnagle said. “Riley Ferrell stayed here, Tyler Alexander stayed here, Preston Morrison stayed here. Young, Traver and Howard all pitched because they needed innings.”

Night shift

Even with a veteran squad, TCU put in two night practices in preparation for Friday’s season opener under the lights, just to get the feeling again.

“I hate for anything to be new when the season starts that we can possibly control,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ve practiced tarp delays before. We’ve used music, crowd noise. And any time we bring in a new uniform, we always wear it a couple of times in practice.”

The alumni game last weekend was the first chance to go through the game day checklist, from the pre-game meal to batting practice.

“It’s an everyday sport, very much tied to routine,” Schlossnagle said. “You want to establish those routines as early as possible.”

Lefty lineup

The lineup is going to have five left-handed hitters and two switch hitters, giving the Horned Frogs the potential to send seven left-handed bats against right-handed pitchers.

“That’s one thing we’ve never really had before,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re actually a little short on the right side.”

The Horned Frogs can compensate against left-handers by using another switch hitter, Elliott Barzilli, to give them five right-handed bats.

“He would be a big part of that if we faced a really tough leftie,” Schlossnagle said.

Catcher evaluation

Schlossnagle said both catchers, starter Evan Skoug and backup Zach Plunkett, looked good in the alumni game. Skoug had three hits and played the whole game for the Horned Frogs, and Plunkett played half the game for the alumni.

“They both caught really well, threw well,” Schlossnagle said. “Those guys are both good players. But both are going to have days where they struggle.”

Skoug hit cleanup and had a run batted in.


▪ The Talking TCU Baseball radio show with Jim Schlossnagle debuted Thursday on KTCU 88.7 FM and via All-Access on It will also air at 6 p.m. on March 19, April 23 and May 7.

▪ Schlossnagle said the batting lineup the Horned Frogs used in the alumni game will likely be the same for the season opener.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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