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Texas A&M Baseball

4 Days 'til Aggie Baseball: Inside baseball recruiting with Nolan Cain

February 13, 2023
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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.


Texas A&M baseball's recruiting coordinator Nolan Cain has hit the trails hard since arriving last year as Jim Schlossnagle & Co. continue building a program of players that can win any game while also loving to play the game of baseball.

Key notes from Nolan Cain interview

  • Honestly, I didn’t know about all of the traditions and types of things that come along with being at Texas A&M and in College Station. When we would come on road trips when I was at LSU, you were in and out. You’d be at the hotel doing scouting reports and watching players. You’d be at the field for a game. It has been amazing being here. My family loves it. The kids have gotten acclimated to it. The elementary school is right in our neighborhood, which is awesome. I can drop them off before getting to the office and see them in the mornings. I’m loving every minute of being in College Station.
     
  • The reception on the recruiting trail has been really good, especially after being here for a full year in Texas. Your network is continuing to grow, and high school coaches are beginning to reach out to me first regarding certain players. Those follow lists and the tracking of players has gotten bigger. When you get on the phone, the success rate is going up. When we first got here, we were running and gunning. We got eight guys out of the portal. We added some guys in the 2022 class. Again, our first full recruiting class will not get on campus until 2024, as crazy as that sounds. Like Jim Schlossnagle says all the time, when you get a new job, you’re not one or two classes behind. You’re three recruiting classes behind. We’re building those. Our 2023s, 2024s, 2025s and 2026s are off to a really strong start.
     
  • We check the transfer portal every single day. We grabbed a couple of those guys this fall. We played against one of them. One went into the portal. You check the numbers. You watch the video. You have Michael Earley and Schlossnagle watch it and get everybody on board. We’ve had a lot of success with grad transfers. Think about Jacob Palisch and Troy Claunch. They played for four years at a school, got a degree and had success. Why wouldn’t we want that guy in our program? For us, the offense takes an intelligence level to play in it. If you can get guys with 500-700 college at-bats to plug into a role with Schlossnagle running the offense, it has been a really good blend with those older guys before you throw Jace LaViolette in there or Kaeden Kent or Max Kaufer in there as freshmen. You have that blend of older guys teaching the younger guys. Austin Bost can grab a guy and show them how we do things here.
     
  • You have to remember that we value what we look for in a catcher differently than other programs. The first thing we’re looking at is the receiving, then the blocking, hitting and throwing. Mostly, stolen bases are off the pitcher. If we’re putting 2.0s or 2.1s on the bag, we feel good about what we’re doing, and those guys are going to throw out 25-30 percent of runners. Look at Claunch last year. He was the 16th-best receiver in the country and blocked like 98 percent of pitches in the dirt. He hit around .300 and threw out 25 percent of his runners. That’s what we’re looking for every single year. Working with our catchers this year, the fall was difficult, and I had never coached those guys. We didn’t have a guy that had been a solidified college player like Claunch, so we had to really work on the basic things and get back to the foundational level of receiving and staying underneath pitches or learning how to hold pitches and giving the umpire a chance to call it a strike. They all blocked pretty well. The throwing was a little bit behind, but it has gotten much better. We attacked it really strong after the fall practice ended. We got back into individuals where it was like 30 minutes with each guy every single day. We had enough data and information from TrackMan and video to tell us what to attack.
     
  • You can forget that Kaufer is 17 years old sometimes. The kid is super mature, and he has really bought into things that Schlossnagle really values in this program. He has a really good mental game. He has a really good foundation. He has a really good routine of the things we like to do. When we recruited him, we really loved the bat. He really swung it well. We liked the catching, but it has really gotten better. Before he got here, he caught 1,000 balls every single day from the time he realized that he was going to be coming to school early to the time he got here. You can go down into the cages, and he’s always taking balls off the machine. He wants to learn and grow. He has a really good presence about him where everything is really calm. He knows how to communicate with the pitchers. When he got here, we wanted to work with the guys on his own so that he could learn what their stuff does. He wanted me to send him video of what Nathan Dettmer and other look like. Who asks that question at 17 years old?
     
  • I’m always trying to play out situations in my head of where we’re at in the game, where we’re at in the lineup, who is coming up. Do they have somebody up in the bullpen? At the end of the day, Schlossnagle either wants them to be safe or don’t send them. We didn’t have anybody thrown out last year. If we hold somebody at third with one out, then it’s on the hitter. His job is to get a pitch that he can handle to drive the run in, or he takes his walk and passes the baton. Schlossnagle does a great job and has a great temperament with it all. You get competitive as a third-base coach at times. I remember the first inning at Texas last year when it was just rocking there, and we hit a double down the left-field line, and Kole Kaler slid in just safe. You have to check yourself sometimes.
     
  • Look at somebody like Jack Moss. He didn’t go play summer ball last year. He stayed here and put on 25 pounds with Jeremy McMillan in the weight room. We saw that translate in the fall. He hit a couple more homers. He hit a ball to dead center. He hit a couple of balls out oppo and some pull side. You can see his development going on.
     
  • For me, it was important out of Bost, Trevor Werner and Brett Minnich to come back. We were hoping to get two of them back, and we get all three. It’s leadership. We did all that work as a coaching staff to infuse our offense and our style of play into our program. If those guys had left, we’d still have Ryan Targac, Moss and others. Getting those three back, especially Bost, really allows the younger players time to play when they’re ready, and it allows them to see excellence on a daily basis. They see guys with really good standards and habits that go about it the right way. If those guys didn’t come back, we’d be completely rebuilding that, and that’s why I personally believe it was so important to have them come back.
     
  • LaViolette and Kent are both definitely in the mix. Kent is an absolute baseball player. He’s going to make the routine play and is super versatile; he’ll play short, third and second. I love his approach at the plate. He’s a battler and gamer that is going to fight you tooth and nail. What’s not to like about LaViolette? He’s 6-foot-6. He runs a 6.6. He has a good arm, plays a good outfield and hits balls 500 feet. I think for LaViolette, in going back to some of the guys that don’t come back, maybe he’d be pushed up into the five-hole this year. Instead, maybe he gets to settle in at seven, eight or nine early in the year. That’s a huge weight off a young player’s shoulders.
     
  • The process that we go through on a daily basis with the way our practice is structured or the way our batting practice is structured, we do it every day. You can’t let the monotoness of it all become boring. When we hit BP, our team breakdown on “Boring equals barrels.” If you come watch us take BP, we’re not going to be launch balls off the scoreboard. That’s just not what we do. We’re going to try and take swings that translate in the game. That whole year of work with Jordan Thompson being in the program and being in the system have allowed him to buy in and believe in it, and that has made him better.
     
  • I don’t think we understood how hurt Minnich was last year with that hip labrum deal that he had because he finally opened up in the first scrimmage this spring when he hit a single the other way, and you could see in the way that he was moving around the bases with the turn that he took and how aggressive he was getting around and the way he’s moving with the fluidity around first base. That guy was hurt last year, and he had a great year. Now he’s fully healthy and feeling good. I’m looking for big things out of him.
     
  • I think we’re already in midseason form, honestly. We’re holding scrimmages, and the pitchers are in one dugout, and they’re talking some trash. The other day, Justin Lamkin got Bost in one at-bat. In the second at-bat, Bost hit a home run off of him and was running his mouth a little bit going around the bases. Our guys are ready to play somebody else. We’ve done as good of a job as we can in these scrimmages, but with an older, veteran team like this, you’re just ready to play somebody else.
     
  • We get so many names in recruiting from high school coaches, summer coaches or people that will hit us up about players we might be interested in from around the country. If you go out with a recruiting list for 2025, that list is going to start with 250-300 players. The number one job is putting red lines through names. You have to trim that list down. You can start with some of the physical tools. Offensively, we want to be able to win any game, whether the wind is blowing in 30 mph, blowing out 30 mph or if it’s a pitching duel. We want baseball players. We love the left-handed hitter. We love switch hitters. We’re looking for athletic guys, and you’ll see some more athleticism on this year’s team with Travis Chestnut and Stanley Tucker and Tab Tracy and Kasen Wells. We have a lot more speed and athleticism. We stole 88 bags last year, but we should be in the 100s easily. We have to have the whammers. It all fits in. Attitude and effort go a long way and will keep you on the list. When you go out in the summer to recruit, I basically only have 45 days. I’d love to see X team play 15 times, but I can’t. There has to be something on that team that is going to keep bringing you back to see those three or four other guys. The way that you deal with your teammates, interaction with your coaches and parents after a game, it all matters. We’re not just hanging around after a game because we’re bored. We’re seeing the way you interact with people. How do you treat your mom? How do you interact with umpires on the field? Obviously, the skill set matters a lot, and we can’t overlook that. We’re looking for very defined players. There are so many different profiles that we’re looking for when putting a team together. You try to start in the middle of the field. Catchers, shortstops, left-handed pitching and centerfielders go off the board first, and then you start to expand across the field a little bit.
     
  • If you run a 5.6 to first base, you’re either lazy or slow, and neither one of them is good. Be the first one on the field and the first off the field. Do you love baseball? Do you love to play and compete? It’s not about having a hitting coach or a strength coach and playing with X team in these elite tournaments. Show you that you love to play. Anybody can go through the monotony of going through the motions and stand out like a sore thumb on a baseball field these days.
Discussion from...

4 Days 'til Aggie Baseball: Inside baseball recruiting with Nolan Cain

3,891 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Mark Fairchild
TheWoodsAg
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Love It
SABUILDERAG
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This coaching staff is on point
Mark Fairchild
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What is so great to me is that from the Top down, every coach has said how much they like AMC and the community, that is a common thread. The paragraph on the kind of person a player is really outstanding, not just a hitter a GOOD person that can hit.
Gig'em, Ole Army Class of '70
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