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Texas A&M Baseball

Schlossnagle & Co. open 2024 campaign on Friday night at Blue Bell

February 15, 2024

Opening Day is almost here as the 2024 Fightin' Texas Aggies will begin the season on Friday night against the McNeese State Cowboys. On Thursday morning, head coach Jim Schlossnagle joined TexAgs Radio to discuss the latest regarding his club ahead of tomorrow's opener.

Key notes from Jim Schlossnagle interview

  • The rotation is super top-secret stuff with lots of levels of clearance. It’s Billy Liucci’s birthday today, right? He doesn’t have the level of clearance that Big Shooter does, but it will be Ryan Prager, Justin Lamkin and Shane Sdao. They’ve all thrown really well.
  • Tanner Jones is a little behind, but it’s nothing serious, just minor issues. He’ll throw a bullpen today and should be available to pitch an inning or two next weekend.
  • Sdao has really stepped up and grabbed that third spot. Chris Cortez threw great the other night. Prager has really stepped up to the forefront with his age and experience, and we’ll give him the ball first. All the games are important. Left-handers seem to get people out at a better rate than right-handers, so we’ll see if that works for us. If all feels great, we’ll throw Jones next weekend.
  • I’m very pleased with Weston Moss. He’s in a group with a bunch of talented young pitchers. He’s throwing hard. We had to shut him down and let him get stronger. He’s had some really good moments and is throwing strikes. He’s behind Isaac Morton and Brett Antolick, but he’s just as talented. He’s a bright spot for sure and a big part of our future. We’ll look to get him an appearance here and there. That’s the key to our team. Can Prager, Sdao, Cortez, and Evan Aschenbeck hold down the fort and let us get these young pitchers a taste of things as they mature and get a taste of college baseball? The guys who pitch the best will pitch the most.
  • It’s a balance of making sure the guys are ready to go. Gavin Grahovac got hit in the right forearm, near the funny bone. He hit yesterday. He should be fine. He threw a rocket across the field right after getting hit. We’ll have him play catch today and then be ready to go tomorrow.
  • Overall, the health of our club is pretty great, but injuries happen throughout the season. You’ll have to endure that, which is why you need everybody in the club ready to go.
  • Travis Chestnut is a very dynamic player once he gets to first base, but you can’t steal first. It’s a long season. There’s no question, he has a very defined role on the bases and playing defense in the outfield. Anything can happen during the season. We saw that last year with Brett Minnich breaking his thumb in his first at-bat of the season, sliding into first, and everything we had planned went out the door. How can you react when things go wrong and what will your plan be? We know there will be adversity with plan X, so are we prepared with plans Y and Z?
  • On the field, Hayden Schott can hit. He has the ability to hit it out of the ballpark, but he’s got some Jack Moss in him. He uses the whole field and can turn bad swings into hits. He’s competitive and stays in at-bats. A good hitter will reset the at-bat and hit the ball the other way. We have more than one guy who can do that, and Schott is certainly one of those guys. Away from the field and his personality, he brings a lot to the table. What you see on the mic’d-up videos is not an act. It’s real. He keeps me in a good mood. He and I have some good back and forth. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself. He’s very confident in who he is. He’s actually got another year of eligibility left. We hope there’ll be opportunities for him in professional ball, but we sure would love to have him back. He’s going to be an epic personality for this program.
  • I think on paper a lot of coaches would say, on paper, that they have a lot of options, but you never truly know until you play the games. Are you ready to go when your time is called? We play four games a week, which is just 36 outs unless there’s an extra-inning game. If you only get to pitch once a week, are you ready to go when the time comes? That’s not easy. In the lineup guys will get shuffled in and out. There will be players we ride a little bit longer. Yes, there are guys at the end of games, like Brock Peery, who will get a lot of different outs for us. Troy Wansing can pitch at the end like he did last year. We’ve got freshmen who you can’t deny their talent: Morton, Kaiden Wilson and Antolick. Peyton Smith is a very unique pitcher. He’s just a sophomore who transferred from Dallas Baptist. Yes, there are options, but we have to play the games to see who those guys will be.
  • The best teams I’ve been on always have an all-time pitcher, like when you’re a kid playing whiffle ball, and you call an all-time pitcher. We have that guy in Aschenbeck. Jacob Palisch was that guy for us in my first year. Aschenbeck has done all of that. Ideally, we would like to not use him as much or use him in shorter stints. The average start in the SEC last year was 4.2 innings. The days of a guy going six innings don’t happen anymore. Guys are too good, and there are too many analytics. It’s tough. Most young pitchers throw harder, but they don’t throw enough strikes. That’s where a guy like Aschenbeck comes in. He has extreme value. He could start a game if he needed to. He’s incredibly trusted. If I had to get three outs to go to the College World Series right now, Aschenbeck would be at the top of that list.
  • McNeese has two really good returning left-handed hitters in Braden Duhon and Cooper Hext. They bunt and put pressure on, but they have a lot of new guys. Their head coach, Justin Hill, really knows how to play winning baseball. They won 35 games last year. In my last year at TCU, we played them to open the regional. I interviewed for the head coach job at McNeese State twice, and they didn’t pick me. I finished second to Mike Bianco and Todd Butler. They steal a ton of bases. We’ll have to play well to win. We’ll have to play our best to win. The weather looks like it will be OK, and Sunday looks to be solid. The weather is as good as you can ask for. Hopefully, the 12th Man shows up, and we’ll have some great crowds.
  • I don’t have to tell them about playing at Blue Bell Park. They see it. Being in the batter’s box is way different, those two fall games help. It’s never like the real game which is why we have to get in the game. A guy like Grahovac is going to have to get in there. His heart rate will speed up, but we just got to play. We’re going to have to ride through the ups and downs of the season. Being in front of your home crowd to start the season is obviously way better than going on the road.
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Schlossnagle & Co. open 2024 campaign on Friday night at Blue Bell

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