FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Former big league pitcher Kirk Saarloos was named TCU’s new head baseball coach Tuesday after nine seasons as the team’s pitching coach that included four consecutive trips to the College World Series.
Saarloos replaces Jim Schlossnagle, who left after 18 seasons last week to become Texas A&M’s coach. Saarloos had also been the recruiting coordinator for the Horned Frogs the past eight years.
After pitching for the Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds over seven big-league seasons from 2002-08, Saarloos returned to Cal State Fullerton, where in four seasons as a college pitcher he appeared in the College World Series twice. He was pitching coach for the Titans for two seasons (2011-12) before going to TCU.
Athletic director Jeremiah Donati said his search began with an overall evaluation of the program.
“It became very apparent from our meetings with numerous current and former baseball student-athletes that this program is about the family-like atmosphere and amazing culture that exists among the players, coaches and staff,” Donati said. “In coach Saarloos not only did we find a great coach with a tremendous plan, we found someone who is a perfect fit for this baseball program and university.”
Donati said another indication of that was when Saarloos asked TCU to move back his introductory news conference that had initially been planned for Tuesday morning to the afternoon. He and his wife, whose 19th wedding anniversary is Wednesday, attended their daughter’s award ceremony at school hours before his introduction.
Saarloos made an immediate impact upon arriving at TCU in 2013 as the Horned Frogs had their lowest team ERA (2.78) since 1968. Their 2014 CWS team led the nation with a 2.22 ERA while setting a Big 12 record with 14 shutouts and a school-record 574 strikeouts. The 2015 team set a new record with 653 strikeouts.
The Horned Frogs this year shared the Big 12 regular-season title with Texas, won the conference tournament and were a No. 6 national seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing at home last weekend.
“We weren’t done yet, we haven’t reached what we want to reach,” Saarloos said. “It wasn’t done yet. This is where my heart is.”