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Texas A&M Baseball

7 Days 'til Aggie Baseball: Michael Earley back for year two in Aggieland

February 10, 2023

It’s that time of year! The Texas Aggie baseball team is set to open up the 2023 season on Friday against Seattle at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. We're counting down the days with our 2023 Aggie Baseball Preview Series.

Under Michael Earley's direction, Texas A&M's offense hit .289 as a club with 84 home runs as a team in 2022, both marked improvements on the year before. With plenty of talent back this spring, A&M expects to be even more powerful at the plate in Earley's second season.

Key notes from Michael Earley interview

  • You could not pick a better town to live in or move to with a family. It’s been great. The people have been great. I feel the community I feel like I run into somewhere everywhere I go, which is sometimes good and bad. What a great place to live in when you have three kids and a wife. 
  • You have to continue on with how you do things. In baseball, it’s easy to change or want to try and do something more. There's a time and place for that, but it's minuteness. The guys you named are good at embracing that and doing their day-to-day stuff. As a coach, I have a responsibility. The guys that came back have expectations for the team and their careers. Managing that, it helps when you have guys in similar situations. I feel a similar responsibility to them to give them everything I’ve got. That is the culture that Jim Schlossnagle has built here. It’s just expected.
  • Strength is everything. The strength coach Jeremy McMillan is the best asset I could possibly have or any coach at any position can possibly have. That’s especially so with hitters. You can have a guy that has a beautiful swing and is always on time, but if he is weak, he’s weak. I’m blown away by what McMillan can do and the things he has done. The knowledge he has about his job, he is truly elite and a definite advantage for us.
  • Brett Minnich was playing hurt last year. He’s moving faster. He was a good outfielder, and now he’s better. From a swing standpoint, he has added strength and added mobility from not being hurt. He looks like a way better version of himself. He’s doing some things differently than he did last year. To remind you, he got hurt in 2021 and hardly played. Last year was his first time playing in a while. He got thrown in there and played almost every single game last year. The way he’s moving, his strength, his mind and how everything is working. His day-to-day and the way he’s working. It’s another year with the same guys, which is huge.
  • It will be funny if Hunter Haas ends up hitting first for us. I remember when they were seniors and coming to baseball games at Arizona State, we were always like “Haas and Moss.” That’s how I’ve always seen it, but the scenery has changed a little bit. I had a relationship with Haas during his freshman year. I knew he fit in from a cultural standpoint. He fits in with our guys. At the same time, he’s a really good player. He was injured last year. When this kid is at his best, he’s one of the top players at his position in the country. Really good hitter. Plays the game the right way. You look at him and say, “He’s a ballplayer.” He’s a good shortstop that’s going to make the plays. He’s going to get some big hits. He’s going to take his walks. He can run the bases. He’s just a ballplayer.
  • Jace LaViolette has been great. He has the element of power that not many people have ever had. When he hits it hard, it goes out. He’s not swinging for the fences, but that’s just him hitting. He has done a good job of using the whole field. He has gotten better at swinging at strikes and taking balls. I have a lot of expectations for him. We’re managing that. He is a phenomenal human being. He’s an awesome kid. He’s young, so who knows what he will bring. I’m sure he’ll have his ups, and we’ll have to limit his down times, which everyone goes through when you’re younger.
  • Kaeden Kent is the definition of a ballplayer. If he’s up to bat and we need a hit or the game is on the line, I feel really good that he’s prepared. The kid can play. He’s one of the toughest kids on the team as a freshman. He’s a physical kid, too. Him and Jace dont look like freshmen. We have other kids on the team that look like freshmen, and that’s OK. He’s just a baller.
  • Kasen Wells is freaky athletic. He is short and stocky, but he can move well. He can jump, event though you don’t jump that much in baseball. We do a drill in the outfield where we work on getting to the wall. There have been a few times when I throw one and think I’m going to have to tell a manager to go over the wall and get it, but Wells just rises. He has made some big improvements with his bat. He has some aptitude and is smart. He’s explosive in a little package. He’s a little bodybuilder. All great freshmen and great people. That’s the common theme with a lot of guys, and that makes coming work fun when you can come coach baseball with great people.
  • Max Kaufer has been great. Besides baseball, you couldn’t ask for a better transition for how someone handles the high school-college transition better. He’s advanced beyond his years to me. How far, I don’t know, but he definitely doesn’t seem like a senior in high school. JD Gregson has a ton of power and a rocket arm. He moves well behind the plate. Hank Bard is a left-hander and is just a ballplayer. All of those guys are pushing to play. That’s a good problem to have, and we’ll see how it goes down. It will be up to Schlossnagle to make the decision in the end, but we got some options there where last year it was a lot of Troy Claunch. We won’t have Troy, but we’ll have options that we can blend.
  • That kid. What can you say? What you don’t get to see is how Jordan Thompson was when he wasn’t playing. I know he wasn’t happy and thought he should be playing, which I hope he did because if you don’t, you don’t belong as a player. He’s great. He led the postseason in RBI and home runs, and a lot of them were big. JT has been. He has been better this year at staying on balls the other way. He has been more complete, but at the same time, he still has that pop to the pull side. JT is good in the outfield. When it comes to positioning, JT is really good at keeping an eye on me and putting himself where he needs to be and communicating with the other outfielders. I’ve had centerfielders in the past where it’s tough. He’s a captain out there. His defense doesn’t get talked about enough. He has a good arm. He’s a good player. With what he did last year in overcoming the adversity when he wasn’t playing and performing when he was called upon is a tribute to him. We are lucky to have him.
  • Trevor Werner, knock on wood, is healthy right now. He takes care of his body. He does all the right things, so anything that happened to him is not his fault. A healthy Trevor Werner is one of the most talented players in the country. He is in the upper echelon of pure talent, run, throw, hit, hit for power, all that stuff. I’ve never coached a kid that has all five tools like he has. I've coached some guys that fill up the other four well. He can throw the ball 95-98 across the infield and run one off the Rec Center. In the last year, he has become a better baseball player. He is a player, and you have to see that at-bat in Omaha where he battled the lefty from Texas. He was not 100 percent then. That had nothing to do with tools or how fast his bat was. He basically only had a hand and a half with that injury, and that was just being a ballplayer with guys. A healthy Trevor Werner is about as good as it gets from a pure talent standpoint.
  • You want to make guys under that you don’t have to feel good to perform on the field. You don’t have to feel good to perform off a tee or in front toss to perform on the field. Hitting is so mental that you teach guys to want to be prepared. You don’t feel good a lot, so why are you always trying to feel great? There is a time and place for that. Mechanics are super important. I won’t just make it hard and hope they get better. If you’re doing it wrong mechanically, it hinders you, and you won’t have a lot of success even if you are prepared. It’s a balancing act. We try to make it as game-like as possible or make it harder than the game. That can go one of two ways. The game has changed in the past two years. Now everyone is doing that, and now it's about doing it and getting creative. You have to look of the intent of what you’re doing and what you’re incorporating with your coaching. How we do things is the separator.
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7 Days 'til Aggie Baseball: Michael Earley back for year two in Aggieland

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