As five pitchers move on to the MLB, the Texas Tech baseball team has acquired many new faces along with a few returners to the pitching roster in hopes of making the College World Series again.
Tech baseball has a total of 21 pitchers on its roster, with 15 right-handers and six lefties.
The Red Raiders have nine pitchers returning who also pitched in last year’s 45-20 season, which ended with a trip to the College World Series.
Caleb Kilian, the right-handed pitcher who led the team in wins with a record of 9-3 over 20 appearances and 11 starts last season will take the mound again this season according to Tech Athletics.
Kilian is returning after being selected in the 20th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Last year, Kilian threw in four of the five shutouts by Tech and threw a total of 63 strikeouts in 72.1 innings while only throwing 28 walks in the season, finishing with a 3.24 ERA.
Kilian earned multiple honors including being named to the ABCA All-Region first team, First Team All-Big 12 honoree and a First Team Academic All-Big 12 selection.
“I feel more confident,” Kilian said. “I’m like the third oldest on the team now, which is really weird to think about because I feel like I just got here. I feel more confident, and I am one of the leaders on the team, or I try to be.”
Another big returnee for the Red Raiders is junior RHP John McMillon, who was honored on the Olerud Two-Way Player Watch List last season, according to Tech Athletics. McMillon had a 5-3 record in 18 appearances and 12 starts. He also threw the third most strikeouts with 73 and contributed to one shutout.
McMillon also appeared in the College World Series twice last year, only giving up one run in 2.0 frames.
Head coach Tim Tadlock said McMillon is transitioning into being a full-time pitcher this season.
“I don’t have any new pitches or anything, just really working on being more consistent with the pitches I threw last year and worked on the change up a lot more into the offseason,” McMillon said. “This is the first fall I’ve had where I was just a pitcher, and I feel like with that, it’s going to benefit me and the team going forward.”
Along with Kilian and McMillon, players returning from last year’s team for their junior season include RHP Caleb Freeman, LHP Dane Haveman, RHP Connor Queen and redshirt junior LHP Erikson Lanning. Sophomores returning include RHP Ryan Sublette, RHP Kurt Wilson and redshirt sophomore RHP Jake McDonald, according to Tech Athletics.
The Red Raiders have five transfers on their pitching roster this season including sophomore RHP Bryce Bonnin from Arkansas, junior LHP Ryan Keesee from Temple College, junior RHP Garrett Cobb from Cisco College, junior RHP Taylor Floyd from Grayson Community College and redshirt sophomore RHP Carson Carter from Hill College, according to Tech Athletics.
In his 2018 season at Grayson Community College, Floyd was honored with a 2018 All-Conference selection and NTJCAC Co-Pitcher of the Year after throwing 47 strikeouts in 37 innings with a 2.78 ERA and 10 saves, according to Tech Athletics. In his freshman season, he threw a total of 53 strikeouts in 51 innings for 1.59 ERA as well as recording 16 saves, earning him a 2017 All-Conference selection, according to Tech Athletics.
“One guy that has stood out in my mind is Taylor Floyd from Grayson,” McMillon said. “Junior college guys are tough, mentally and physically, and he’s a guy who is going to challenge hitters. He throws a lot of strikes, he’s got good stuff and a lot of run on a 93 mile per hour fastball, and he really stood out to me. I think he’s really going to help us out this year.”
Keesee led Temple College to the 2018 Junior College World Series, according to Tech Athletics. Keesee started in 14 games in his sophomore season as he finished with 80 strikeouts and a 4.52 ERA in 69.2 innings. He also made it to the 2018 NBC World Series with Lonestar Baseball Club.
The Red Raiders have six freshmen pitchers looking to start their college careers at Tech, as well as one redshirt freshman who sat out last season, according to Tech Athletics.
One newcomer is freshman Mason Montgomery, who was ranked No. 2 for left-handed pitchers in Texas and the overall No. 9 prospect in the state for the 2018 class, according to Tech Athletics. He was also drafted in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox in the 39th round. Montgomery has struck out 19 batters and allowed one hit and two walks in a seven-inning shutout.
In his junior season, he earned 2017 All-District 25-6A First Team and All-Central Texas Baseball Team honors after throwing 80 strikeouts in 44.2 innings with a 0.63 ERA.
Cade Farr was ranked No. 7 among left-handed pitchers and No. 78 overall prospect in Texas, according to Tech Athletics. As a first baseman and pitcher, Farr earned a 2018 TAPPS Division II All-State Honorable Mention and 2018 All-District 1 First Team. In his junior season, he struck 76 batters out in 40.1 innings and threw three no-hitters, with a 1.22 ERA.
Along with Montgomery and Farr, the freshmen starting their college careers as Red Raiders include RHP Micah Dallas, RHP Hunter Dobbins, RHP Trey Garlett, LHP Noah Huerta and redshirt freshman RHP Clayton Beeter, according to Tech Athletics.
The Red Raiders ultimately added 10 new pitchers to their lineup, and one redshirt freshman after six pitchers were selected in the MLB Draft, which is the most pitchers drafted since 2016, according to Baseball Reference.
“It’s a lot of new faces around, and a lot of guys that Tadlock has put here to succeed, and I’m excited about everyone, really,” McMillon said.