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Texas A&M Baseball

4 Days 'til Aggie Baseball: Head coach Jim Schlossnagle joins TexAgs Radio

February 14, 2022

It’s that time of year! The Texas Aggie baseball team is set to open up the 2022 season on Friday against Fordham at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. We’re counting down the days with our 2022 Aggie Baseball Preview Series.

Texas A&M will play its first game of the Jim Schlossnagle early later this week when the Aggies host Fordham on Friday night. The head coach joined TexAgs Radio on Monday to discuss the building excitement as Opening Day draws closer and closer.

Key notes from Jim Schlossnagle Interview

  • I’m super excited. It has been a long time coming. The guys have worked really hard. We can’t get over-excited about Opening Day because it’s a long season, but it’s going to be nice to play somebody else. We’ll find out where we’re good at and the areas where we need to get better. I’m excited to be in the atmosphere of Blue Bell Park. I’m really looking forward to it.
  • From a preparation schedule standpoint, we’re going to try to get a workout in on Tuesday night and get one more. We were out there on Friday night. We’re going to try to get under the lights, which is always a little different. Weather dependent, we’ll have a couple of light practices on Wednesday and Thursday. We’re supposed to get a little bit of rain, but hopefully, we’ll be able to dodge that. We’ll have a short intrasquad game with some guys who need to be able to throw three or four innings on Tuesday night. We’ll touch up a few things before the weekend. In terms of evaluation, it’s a constant evaluation. We can’t put everything in the first season. It’s a long season. In 31 years, I’ve never been part of a team that has the starting lineup and weekend rotation on the first weekend was the same as it was in June. It’s a constant state of flux. Number one, who’s healthy? Number two, how are the guys doing? It’s the guys that pitch the best and play the best that are the ones who play the most. That gives everybody a chance to hang on to their job and for guys to come out during the season and get better. It’s a constant give-and-take throughout the year.
  • As of now, our expectations are for Austin Bost to play. We’ll just see how he handles the day-to-day. Does he play all three days in a row where he’s on his feet? Backs are really tricky. We’ve been testing him. Our trainer, Isaac Trujillo, and our strength coach, Jeremy McMillan, have been doing an awesome job. We have a catapult system, and I know that’s one thing that football uses. It’s something we brought in new to A&M, but it has been a big part of our player healthy assessment process in programs I’ve been part of the last couple of years. Right now, our full expectation is for Austin to be out there, whether it’s in the outfield or as DH. We’re going to do our best to ease him into it the best we can to make sure he’s with us for the long haul. He’s certainly a big part of everything we’re trying to do.
  • You reserve the final judgment until you start facing other team’s pitchers under the lights because you never know how guys are going to react. There are guys who will outperform what they do in practice. Hopefully, we won’t have any guys underperform, but that always seems to be the case. It truly is about performing when it really matters. As of now, off of what I’ve been able to judge, which is our practices and two fall games, this is a position player group that I’m super excited about.
  • I’m not sure we have a guy with super-elite speed, but we can roll out a lineup where seven or eight of the nine guys can move on the bases, go first to third or steal a bag in the right situation. For the most part, they do a good job of getting on base.
  • It’s about team offense, then it’s about getting on base. Two, it’s about playing good situational baseball in base running. Three, it’s about hitting with runners in scoring position. That’s the offensive structure. We don’t want to give up outs too often, and we want to play offensive offensively. With some of the pieces we have, guys like Trevor Werner, Logan Britt, Kalae Harrison, Kole Kaler, Brett Minnich.
  • Ryan Targac has been banged up in a lot of ways since I got here, but he just had his first full weekend of practice. He can really move on the bases. We don’t want to be a one-dimensional team offensively if we can help it. You don’t want to be a power team or a running team. You want to do a lot of different things. There is some opportunity to do that, but we’ll never know that until we face another team and the SEC pitching.
  • So far, this coaching staff has been amazing. You never know until you get punched in the mouth and have to handle that. Nate Yeskie is as elite as you’re going to find in collegiate and professional baseball. He has turned down five professional pitching coach jobs, including the Yankees. He’s as good as there is in terms of developing pitchers.
  • Michael Earley has been super impressive. He is a guy that I knew of but didn’t know before we hired him. He brings a lot of toughness, and he’s a younger guy that can connect with the players. It’s important for the pitchers and the hitters to have someone other than the head coach they can go to. He’s a tireless worker, and the kids trust him. He has done a great job.
  • Nolan Cain gets a lot of accolades for his recruiting, but he’s a really good coach. His reputation in recruiting overshadows that some. He has done a good job of coaching third base and coaching our catchers. Troy Claunch is certainly a super-developed guy as a grad transfer, but the guys behind him have gotten better. That’s key. It’s about constant improvement throughout the course of a season.
  • I love our coaching staff. We got together to watch the Super Bowl last night. Jason Hutchins, Will Fox and Chuck Box bring a boatload of ability to helping our guys get better from their perspective in the office. I’m as happy as I could possibly be with our staff, but none of it means anything if you can’t perform on the field. That remains to be seen, but we’re excited to get started.
  • We’ll announce our starting rotation as soon as Fordham feels good about announcing theirs. That’s kind of the cat-and-mouse game. Of course, there will be more video of Texas A&M and our pitchers than there is of Fordham. I feel like I have an idea of who it will be with a combination of Nathan Dettmer, Ryan Prager and Micah Dallas on the weekend, but there are others still fighting for time out of that bullpen.
  • Dettmer is really the only pitcher with SEC experience that we have other than Joseph Menefee out of the bullpen and maybe Jonathan Childress a little bit. Dettmer will be someone we hang our hat on for most weekends. He has done a great job of improving. He came back, and about halfway through the fall, he was just out of gas from the summer. Shutting him down seems to have helped some.
  • Dallas has proven that he can pitch in any role for Texas Tech, but now he has to go do it as an Aggie. I’ve had some super talented left-handed pitchers in my career, and I think Prager has the upside to be in that mix. We’re excited about them. I imagine some combination of that group will be out there this weekend.
  • Trevor Werner is a huge, huge kingpin of what we’re going to be doing offensively and defensively. On a team that doesn’t have a lot of super-defined, experienced pitching, when I write a lineup, it’s going to be about who plays defense on most days. There will be some days where you’re just trying to get guys at-bats, and you’ll give up some defense to get guys at-bats before we get to conference play. At the end of the day, we have to put the best defense on the field. That’s true in any season, but especially this season until we develop a pitching staff. A big piece of that is Werner developing into a third baseman. I know he has been a pitcher and a shortstop here, but right now, we’re solely focusing on him at third base. In the last two weeks, he has played really well defensively. What that does is allows us to put Kole Kaler in the middle of the infield with Kalae Harrison, who is one the best defensive shortstops I’ve ever coached. If Kaler has to play short, we won’t lose much there. I’m really happy with those three infielders.
  • Second base is the position that handles the ball a lot, but it’s also the position where the balls aren’t that tough. It’s the shortest throw. Third base to me is the key, and you have to have a good third baseman. Trevor has really, really come on with that. I believe with more experience, he’s only going to get better.
  • We have Claunch behind the plate. In the outfield, it’s Dylan Rock, Logan Britt and Brett Minnich, and Bost will be out there some too. I think we’ll be solid in the outfield, and we have a chance to be elite or close to it in the infield if we can keep those three guys healthy in Werner, Harrison and Kaler.
  • We’re not reinventing the wheel here, but you have to be able to use the whole field to be an elite hitter. That’s easier said than done, especially against today’s pitching the analytics in today’s college baseball. Minnich is a guy that makes us a better team when he’s in the lineup, playing his best. He’s a left-handed hitter, which we don’t have a ton of. He can run, steal a base and a really good outfielder. He has to go win the job, and we’re a couple of days away from that lineup. He showed moments of that last year before an injury. Minnich’s a guy that is coming on. If I was writing the lineup with my heart, I really want him in there. You have to write the lineup with your head, and hopefully, he’ll continue to use the whole field to hit and not be a guy you can use shifts against him. So far, he’s using the middle of the field. He’s a game-changing player on our roster right now for sure.
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4 Days 'til Aggie Baseball: Head coach Jim Schlossnagle joins TexAgs Radio

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