TCU Baseball fans are breathing a sigh of relief Tuesday, as TCU pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Kirk Saarloos has been selected to take over as skipper of the program, replacing Jim Schlossnagle who departed for Texas A&M earlier this month. The announcement was made in front of media members who gathered in the Four Sevens Team Room Tuesday afternoon at the behest of TCU Communications and was also streamed on www.GoFrogs.com for fans.
A New Chapter in #FrogballUSA ⚾️— TCU Athletics (@TCU_Athletics) June 15, 2021
Excited to announce @kirk_saarloos as the Head @TCU_Baseball Coach! #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/LmPAtHV28D
Saarloos was far and away the top choice for fans and former players, and it was rumored that the current roster was hoping he would get the nod as well. The former Cal State Fullerton star spent several seasons in Major League Baseball after being selected in the third round of the draft by the Astros, retiring in 2009 and beginning his coaching career two years later.
Saarloos was on the bench for Fullerton in 2011, serving as an undergraduate assistant coach working primarily with the pitchers. In 2012, he was elevated to full time pitching coach by the Titans, a position he held for one season before taking the same job at TCU.
Saarloos’ impact with the Horned Frogs cannot be overstated. He has been critical in signing some of the most talented arms in school history, highlighted by Nick Lodolo, the highest drafted player in program history. He developed players like Brian Howard and Mitchell Traver that enjoyed professional careers, and has been instrumental in the growth of Russell Smith, Austin Krob, and the young staff for TCU this past season. Saarloos is beloved by his players, as was born out over social media the moment Schlossnagle left Fort Worth.
An “Open Letter” written to @JDonati_TCU - hoping these words come across with the humility and sincerity intended. Grateful to be a @TCU_Baseball alum. pic.twitter.com/mgZ6Is84qv— Mitchell Traver (@Mitchell_Traver) June 10, 2021
Could not have said it any better myself. Two of the most influential people in my development as a player and more importantly a person. Truly thankful for both @kirk_saarloos and @Bill_Mosiello https://t.co/OeMEYx8N1r— Evan Skoug (@EvanSkoug) June 10, 2021
Not technically an alumnus.... but, speaking from experience, if @JDonati_TCU hires anyone else BUT @Bill_Mosiello or @kirk_saarloos it will be a huge mistake. Two incredible coaches and leaders of men. https://t.co/z7U4XHBzoe— Zack Plunkett (@zack_plunk48) June 10, 2021
Hate to see Schloss leave but happy for him. If only there was an elite experienced pitching coach and recruiter nearby someone perhaps who wouldn’t need to change offices someone who knows good BBQ and is a die hard horned frog @kirk_saarloos @JDonati_TCU— Heim Barbecue (@HeimBBQ) June 9, 2021
According to his bio on the TCU Baseball website, “The Horned Frogs’ 3.19 ERA since 2014 ranks sixth nationally. TCU led the nation with a 2.22 ERA in 2014 and ranked second in 2015 with a 2.45 ERA. Additionally, the TCU pitching staff has the fourth-most shutouts (45) nationally over the last seven years.”
Replacing a legend — and someone who took the Frogs to Omaha five times — won’t be easy. But Saarloos has the right kind of makeup to step into the lead role. Though TCU loses a very impactful senior class this summer, and could see a couple of players declare early as well, the nucleus is a young, talented group that has a chance to keep the reigning conference champions at the top of the Big 12 for years to come. Promoting Saarloos means that TCU has a chance to keep draft-eligible pitchers Smith and Krob, and to hold onto another highly ranked recruiting class of incoming studs. Additionally, being able to hold onto star freshmen like Brayden Taylor, Luke Boyers, and Elijah Nunez is paramount — and something that Saarloos is certainly capable of.
This was the first big hire of Athletic Director Jeremiah Donati’s career at TCU, and while conducting a national search was the prudent move, ultimately landing on the “homegrown” guy was far and away the right move. Kirk has had many opportunities to leave for head coaching jobs at the collegiate level — including his alma mater this spring — and pitching coach positions in the pros, but has stayed loyal to TCU and Fort Worth, probably for exactly this moment. He said as much Tuesday. “Since [the day I arrived at TCU], it’s been my dream job. There’s no place I would rather be, no job I would rather have than this one right here, right now.” Saarloos was emotional often throughout the press conference, especially when he talked of his family — his wife and three kids — his brother Keith, his mom, and his father — who passed away just over a year ago. “My dad alway told me two things: there’s no substitute for hard work and treat people right. Because if you do those two things, you’ll be successful. I couldn’t be prouder to be the head coach of TCU Baseball.”
Saarloos was also emotional when he talked of Bill Mosiello, and the support the two received from within the program, past and present, and the Fort Worth community. He reiterated what many had hoped — that Mosiello will remain with TCU Baseball as a part of Saarloos’ staff. Though he wasn’t ready to name any other members, he said he will work to surround himself with the best possible people to get the Frogs where they want to go. “We’re not done yet. We haven’t reached what we want to reach. We are going to work like crazy to reach what we all want to reach here. It wasn’t done yet. This is where my heart is.”
He will not only keep continuity in the program, he will have a chance to elevate it — and hopefully get the Horned Frogs back to Omaha. And to that elusive title.to that e