Committed to Winning|
Tadlock and the Red Raiders will have 25 newcomers in 2013
Feb. 28, 2013
by: Michael Vela
Tim Tadlock is passionate about the game of baseball.
It was a Friday night in late January; the Texas Tech head coach began reflecting on his most recent trip to Omaha. The effect of how surreal the moment was overtook him. The way he had grown with the players to achieve what they did all was evident by the way he spoke.
Tadlock looked down at his group of players and announced to the crowd that right here was a good group that has a large potential to become something special. Texas Tech baseball will be in good hands with Tim Tadlock returning to Lubbock as head coach. The Texas Tech graduate will enter this season as the ninth head coach in Red Raider baseball history.
Where this coach goes, success follows.
The Tadlock Era of Texas Tech baseball begins with a new flock of student-athletes in 2013 with only a few familiar faces. There are 25 new players and nine returners from last year's team. Emphasis has been placed on the near record-setting number of newcomers on a Division I baseball team, but Tadlock claims he will be relying on the veterans to step up and play key roles for this team.
"The nine returners are very important to what we're doing here," Tadlock said. "We have five guys that have been in this program for three years. Those guys should play key roles. We're going to be counting on those guys."
Through careful instruction, Tadlock and his coaching staff are changing the culture of Red Raider baseball. More attention to detail and improving each and every day are the main lessons that are being taught to this team. With Tadlock, the commitment to winning will emanate through this squad.
"Every day we've been trying to change," Tadlock said. "More than anything, we are trying to make the effort to win every day. To win baseball games it doesn't necessarily mean getting hits or striking people out. It means doing the little things. Anything we do, we try to do it the right way. There are still some small things that we are addressing to make sure we're committed to winning. Winning games is not about individuals."
Returning shortstop Tim Proudfoot, has noticed Tadlock and his coaching staff's consistent message of striving for improvement every day on the diamond.
"He really pinpoints working hard and getting better every day," Proudfoot said of his head coach. "He's looking for constant improvement. He really stresses getting better each day - whether it is seeing a curveball better or a throwing across the diamond and hitting your spot. Coach Tadlock and all the coaches have been pushing that upon us."
Having a passion for the process is heard a lot around Texas Tech baseball. It is part of the culture change that Tadlock has been working hard to instill here. This is a very admirable statement when it comes to sports and even more when it comes to maturing as a human being.
"Coach Tadlock has been teaching us how to be a Red Raider and to go about our business," junior right-handed pitcher Trey Masek said. "To really take care of business on and off the field and become a good student-athlete."
Tadlock and the rest of his coaching staff are the right mentors for this group of talented players. They understand the different amount of preparation it takes to get on a championship level.
Tadlock preaches that the game of baseball hasn't changed; it is just the approach that might be different.
"It's still the same game they've all played since they were kids," Tadlock, who helped develop 41 players who were selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Players Draft from 2006-2011, said. "It's a different commitment level. So to be successful at this level, you have to be really good every day in your preparation. No different than a guy who has to be diligent running a newspaper, or a restaurant, or a hotel, or a doctor, or lawyer. We're going to try to take each day and get better each day and be a lot better. A lot better in late June and July than we are right now."
The competition inside the clubhouse right now for the starting spots is exactly what Tadlock wants. Everyone is competing to get the starting job. The underlying threat of succession helps make the team better.
"We expect all these guys, whether they're a hitter or a pitcher, to show up every day and be a baseball player," Tadlock, who owned the highest winning percentage of any collegiate baseball coach in the country (.744, 435-127) while at Grayson County College, said. "When they show up in that dugout, spikes are on and we're ready to play baseball. If you don't come ready to play, somebody is going to take your job."
This year's team looks to be a very exciting one. From pitching to hitting to fielding, it will consist of hand-picked impact players that head coach Tadlock and his staff have assembled. These will be the types of players that Red Raider baseball will build its program around.
"We're striving to have a lineup where you don't want to leave your seat," Tadlock said. "We're going to be an exciting team to watch. We're going to play to win. We're going to be aggressive. We're going to play with energy. We're going to pitch it with some exciting pitchers."
Tadlock has three pitchers returning with junior right-handed pitcher Trey Masek and left-handed pitcher Andre Wheeler while senior reliever Jared McCrummen is also returning for his third season at Tech. Along with these experienced pitchers, Tadlock and the Red Raiders will be relying heavily on a number of freshmen and junior-college transfers on the mound.
"There are five freshman right-handed arms in there that have a chance to be about as good as anyone else in the league when it's all said and done," the back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association World Series champion Tadlock said.
"They'll take their lumps early. They'll go out some days and be as good as anybody else in the country. There are two sophomore junior-college guys coming in that can pitch on the same level as a lot of people. They're going to be fun to watch pitch."
Texas Tech's baseball excitement only continues with what will follow. The future is very bright with Tadlock who is known as one of the top recruiters in college baseball. Tadlock and his staff have already signed the 24th nationally-ranked recruiting class which will arrive in fall of 2013. With the young group of players now, adding onto to that will build a solid foundation for years to come.
He has also put together a staff that will excel in the recruiting sector. "We all enjoy recruiting," Tadlock said. "It's a staff effort now-a-days. With NCAA rules that are changing, it's going to be even more of a staff effort," Tadlock said. "You're only as good a coach as the guys around you."
His pitching coach, Ray Hayward, is a former major league pitcher, scouting supervisor and pitching coach/recruiting coordinator at the division I level. While at Oklahoma as pitching coach (2000-2004), Hayward mentored 13 pitchers that were MLB Draft picks, including five pitchers that were selected in the top-10 rounds.
Another assistant, J-Bob Thomas, will be spearheading the recruiting efforts for the Red Raiders while working primarily with the catchers. While at Howard, Thomas became known across the country as one of the top recruiters in college baseball while helping guide Howard to an average of 49 wins per season over his seven seasons and helping send 71 of his junior college players on to NCAA Division I programs.
As much of an emphasis that is put on how special of a recruiter coach Tadlock is, there are other facets of running a collegiate baseball program that needs to be acknowledged. There is a team right here, right now that he is focused on leading to success.
"The biggest challenge is getting your team to play at a high level and when you also need to be recruiting at the same time," Tadlock explained. "First and foremost your attention needs to be on your current team, on your guys that have committed to Texas Tech, and getting them to play at a high level. That is our biggest challenge, getting our guys that are here to play at a high level. That is important to me."
Tadlock is here to win. He is here to build a championship team and to create a powerhouse within the Big 12 Conference.
"We're looking forward to it," Tadlock said. "We're looking forward to trying to place ourselves in a position to do what we want to do which is to play as deep into the postseason as we can."
Tadlock has taken over the Red Raider baseball program. He knows what it takes to succeed - which he has done his entire career - and with his `passion for the process' look for Texas Tech baseball to follow his lead to a bright future.
The crowd at the alumni dinner - filled with former players, supporters and his current team - applauded each and every time Tadlock took a moment to recollect himself while recalling his career in college baseball. As he paced back and forth across the stage with his cordless microphone, a sense of pride had begun to fill the room while watching him talk about his plans for this program. As his speech started to come to a close, Tadlock once again looked down at his team and said, "It's time to get to work."