COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M baseball has named former Arizona State assistant coach Michael Earley to the staff, Aggie head coach Jim Schlossnagle announced Wednesday.
“We are excited to welcome Coach Earley and his beautiful family to Aggieland,” Coach Scholssnagle said. “I searched from coast to coast to identify the best young hitting coach in the country and, without question, Michael’s name kept coming up from the college, professional and Major League Baseball ranks. He will bring a wealth of knowledge, coachability and toughness to our baseball program and we look forward to having him work with the rest of the staff to form an up-tempo, high-energy, grinding-type of Aggie offensive baseball. If you are a young hitter out there that desires to continue your development as a hitter and play in the best division of the best conference in the country, Texas A&M and working under Coach Earley is the place for you!”
Earley arrives in the Brazos Valley after five seasons at Arizona State, including four seasons as the hitting coach on Tracy Smith’s staff.
“Texas A&M hired a rising star in the coaching ranks with the addition of Mike Early,” Smith said. “He is the best I’ve seen in my career at developing hitters. However, Coach Earley’s ability to build rapport by balancing toughness and genuine care for the players is what really makes him special. The Aggies are getting a good one.”
Earley has built a reputation for developing hitters with his most notable work being the rise of Spencer Torkelson to the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Undrafted out of high school, Torkelson was selected by the Detroit Tigers. He was the first third baseman to be selected first overall since Pat Burrell in 1998 and just the fifth third baseman to be selected first overall in MLB Draft history.
It marked the first time a college position player went from being undrafted out of high school to the No. 1 overall pick since Nebraska outfielder Darin Erstad in 1995.
“I would not be where I am at today without Coach Earley,” Torkelson said. “He is the definition of a winner. His hard work and dedication to the game of baseball is contagious.”
In the 2020 MLB Draft, four of Earley’s hitters were selected as Arizona State was the only school in the country to boast five players chosen in the shortened, five-round draft. The list included Torkelson, Alika Williams (37th overall – Tampa Bay Rays), Trevor Hauver (99th overall – New York Yankees) and Gage Workman (102nd overall – Detroit Tigers).
Under Earley’s guidance, Hunter Bishop and Torkelson earned unanimous All-America recognition in 2019, forming one of the most potent offensive duos in college baseball over the last decade. The two were semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy.
In 2019, Arizona State led the nation in home runs during the 2019 regular season, clubbing 92 dingers. The Sun Devils were the NCAA statistical champion in home runs per game, sporting a 1.65 clip.
Arizona State finished the 2019 campaign with 94 homers, easily eclipsing the Pac-12 record for the BBCOR era, surpassing Oregon State’s 67 in 2018. The Sun Devils were the first Power 5 school in the BBCOR era to have multiple payers hit the 20-HR mark with 23 by Torkelson and 22 by Bishop. The Sun Devils batted .310 in 2019, to rank 10th in the nation. They also ranked 17th in the nation in on-base percentage (.398). Bishop was the No. 10 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
“Mike is a big influential figure in my life on and off the field as he changed the course of my career as a hitter,” Bishop said. “He turned me into a professional, and made me realize what is necessary to have consistent results on a daily basis. I’m truly thankful for everything he’s taught me. I’m so excited for him and what’s to come. He is one of the best hitting minds in the country, and I’m looking forward to seeing the effect he has at Texas A&M.”
Earley made an immediate impact in Tempe. Arizona State improved in every offensive statistical category from 2017-18. In 2018, the team clubbed 50 home runs after hitting 38 in 2017. The team’s overall batting average also climbed 20 points to .290, second in the Pac-12 behind 2018 NCAA champion Oregon State. In regular-season action, the Sun Devils ranked second in slugging percentage (.446), hits (549), batting average (.290) and total bases (843).
The work of Earley is not limited to collegiate baseball. He actively mentors hitters on all levels.
“Being in the big leagues, there are a lot of people that are smart and understand hitting,” five-time MLB All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “I would put Coach Earley in that same category. He cares, he works and he’s always there. That’s what the best do. I love working with Michael now and he’s not my hitting coach. He’s not one-track minded. He understands you for who you are.”
Earley was an All-Big Ten performer at Indiana University. In 2010, he batted .352 with 13 home runs and was the only player in the conference to rack up double-digits in home runs and stolen bases.
He was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 29th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He played six seasons in the White Sox organization, reaching the Triple-A level with the Charlotte Knights. He wrapped up his professional career with the Southern Illinois Miners in the independent Frontier League in 2015. He was selected to four All-Star teams during his pro career and was named to the Southern Illinois All-Decade Team.
Earley is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have a son, Marshall, and two daughters, Mia and Madison.