No. 15 TCU baseball to debut young talent, experienced transfers

TCU shortstop Anthony Silva, the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, faces the Rangers Instructs on Oct. 10, 2022. (Photo courtesy of

By Charles Baggarly

TCU lost tons of talent to the MLB draft but reloaded, adding the No. 6 freshman class and No. 8 transfer class according to D1Baseball. Although an experienced group of veterans is returning to Lupton Baseball Stadium, Frog fans will see a variety of new faces in prominent roles.

With the Frogs’ season starting Friday at Globe Life Field against No. 10 Vanderbilt, several newcomers are set to make their debut in purple and white. Here’s a breakdown of the freshman class, the transfer class and the addition of Associate Head Coach T.J. Bruce. 

The addition of associate head coach T.J. Bruce

For the first time since 2013, the Horned Frogs will be without longtime hitting coach and associate head coach Bill Mosiello, who accepted a head coaching job at Ohio State. Bruce, who spent the last seven seasons as head coach at Nevada, was hired to replace Mosiello.

According to third baseman Brayden Taylor, Bruce has made a “really big impact.”

“I love coach Bruce,” Taylor said. “… Getting out there and grinding with him every day. I’m very grateful to be under a coach like him.”

Taylor said Bruce’s number one priority is winning games, and that he has a “getting after it” mindset when it comes to work in the weight room and on the field. 

Saarloos said he bounces ideas off Bruce, who has gone through seven college baseball seasons and has an “understanding [of] the challenges of being a head coach.”

“Just like coach [Mosiello], [Bruce] brings a great style of offense that … I think our fans are going to be excited about,” said Saarloos. “We’re gonna run the bases like we always have. He’s done an amazing job as a hitting coach and as an infield instructor.”

During five seasons as an assistant at Long Beach State, Bruce coached two multi-time MLB All-stars and Golden Glove winners: Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria. As an assistant at UCLA, Bruce helped the Bruins win the 2013 National Championship.

“[I’m] really excited for our fans to be able to see, you know, Coach Bruce and his fingerprint on our offense,” Saarloos said.

The Frogs’ young talent

With shortstop Tommy Sacco graduating and heading for the MLB draft, head coach Kirk Saarloos and the Frogs were tasked with replacing the best bat in the 2022 lineup; Sacco led TCU with a team high .355 batting average, 14 home runs and 58 RBIs.

A more than capable replacement was found in shortstop Anthony Silva, the Big 12 Conference Preseason Freshman of the Year. With a 6-2, 200-pound frame, the San Antonio product has the tools to make an immediate impact on offense and defense. 

“I think [Silva] can make a really big impact [immediately],” said Taylor. “Just an all-around really good player. Really good kid.”

To open spring practice, Saarloos said they were “trying to get [Silva] healthy.” The freshman shortstop has been battling hamstring issues.

“So we’re trying to get [Silva] healthy,” Saarloos said. “But he’s physical. He’s probably more physical than most freshmen when they come in. [Silva] plays really good defense. He’s done a good job with coach [TJ] Bruce and coach [John] Delaura in terms of the offensive side of it. So his big thing right now is getting healthy. You know, he’s able to play in our inner-squad game, but he’s just not gonna run. He dealt with it in the fall, and he’s dealt with it now here in the spring. Hopefully we can get that behind him, because I think he makes us better all the way around.”

Since Saarloos discussed his injury status to open spring practice, Silva has had a few weeks to get back to full strength. On Friday, he’ll be ready to make his collegiate debut at Globe Life Field. 

In addition to Silva, there are more freshmen that will compete for playing time. Pitchers Louis Rodriguez and Chase Hoover are in consideration for starting roles, most likely in a midweek slot.

Rodriguez attended Orange Lutheran High School in California, and so did his Horned Frog teammates Karson Bowen, a freshman catcher, and Gabe Miranda, a freshman first baseman. Bowen provides valuable depth at the catcher position, something the Frogs lacked in 2022. 

The new freshman class also provides depth to the Frog bullpen, which will be critical in the postseason. Keep an eye out for these young pitchers to receive opportunities this season: Ben Abeldt, Braedon Sloan, Murphy Brooks, Justin Hackett, Jax Traeger and Kole Klecker.

Making an impact in the transfer portal

The Horned Frogs picked up three position players with the talent and experience necessary to thrive as starters: right fielder Austin Davis, second baseman Tre Richardson and infielder Cole Fontanelle.

Davis, a graduate student, was named to the All-Big 12 First Team after batting .330 and recording a .402 on-base percentage playing for West Virginia in 2022. He led the Mountaineers with 74 hits, 10 more than any player on the roster.

Davis has elite speed in the outfield and on the basepaths; he stole 29 bases last season, fourth in the Big 12 Conference.

To boost their infield, the Frogs picked up Richardson, who will be in consideration to replace Gray Rodgers, who graduated. While playing for Baylor last season, Richardson was elite facing TCU, tallying 10 hits in 19 at-bats.

“That’s why he’s here,” Saarloos joked. “[Richardson] has done this for two years at a high level in the Big 12.”

Richardson has played 115 college baseball games and is a proven talent, but had “a little bit of a hiccup” in the fall.

“[Richardson] was pressing. He was new,” Saarloos said. “It was almost like he was a freshman again, in terms of being in a new place and [having] new coaches. …He wasn’t [the] Trey that we had seen when we played against [him].”

To open spring practice, however, Saarloos said Richardson looks like “a completely different guy.”

[Richardson is] more settled,” Saarloos said. “I think he’s put together really good practices since we’ve been back.”

If the Frogs have Richardson at full potential, they’ll add a career .295 batter to the lineup. The former Bears’ second baseman notched a team high .398 on-base percentage in 2022.

Another player that can change the Frogs’ dynamic is Cole Fontenelle, a transfer infielder and designated hitter from McLennan Community College. In 2022, Fontanelle flashed his power and base-hitting ability, launching 15 home runs and notching 74 hits on his way to a .381 batting average.

“We recruited Cole Fontanelle as a switch hitter that, in my opinion, can really change the dynamic of this lineup because he can run into baseballs from both sides of the plate,” Saarloos said.

Up next

On Friday, Frog fans will get a sneak peak of the future of Horned Frog baseball. Will the new faces help Saarloos and Co. build upon their success in 2022?

No. 15 TCU baseball will begin its season at 3 p.m. at Globe Life Field against No. 10 Vanderbilt in the College Baseball Showdown.