Eric Wedge makes first appearance as coach
The new Wichita State baseball assistant coach isn’t a former Shocker star player, like many fans theorized, but he does have ties with WSU and fits the bill as a top-notch recruiter.
First-year coach Eric Wedge completed his staff for the 2020 season Thursday afternoon when he announced the addition of Mike Sirianni as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Wichita State in a press release.
“I’m excited to welcome Mike to Wichita State as a part of our coaching staff,” Wedge said in the release. “He is a tireless worker who has a broad range of experience throughout the college baseball realm and extensive recruiting experience in the Midwest.”
The timing comes five weeks after Sirianni accepted the head coaching position at Tarleton State, a Division II school in Texas. He has spent the past three seasons as head coach at Regis University, a Division II school in Colorado, where he compiled a 73-79 record.
In just under a month since he was hired May 29, Wedge (a WSU standout catcher from 1987-89) has filled his staff. He decided to retain Mike Pelfrey (a WSU star pitcher from 2003-05) as the team’s pitching coach, then he convinced Loren Hibbs (a WSU star outfielder from 1982-84) to retire after 27 seasons as Charlotte’s head coach to accept a position as the program’s director of operations.
Outside of Hibbs, WSU’s coaching staff has a combined one season of Division I coaching experience. WSU could still add a volunteer assistant, as well. While inexperienced at the Division I level in this capacity, Sirianni has carved out a reputation in the coaching world as a standout recruiter.
Sirianni doesn’t boast the past Shocker credentials like some other candidates who sources told the Eagle also interviewed for the job, like Kevin Hooper, Mark Standiford and P.J. Forbes, but he does have past ties with WSU and possibly Wedge.
For the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Sirianni was a volunteer assistant for WSU under former coach Todd Butler. Sirianni is credited for playing a role in bringing together WSU’s 2015 recruiting class, which ended up ranked No. 2 in the country by Collegiate Baseball News and produced double-digit draft picks. WSU’s 2016 recruiting class was also ranked No. 18 nationally by Collegiate Baseball News.
“I would like to thank Eric Wedge and the entire Wichita State family for the opportunity to return to Wichita,” Sirianni said in the release. “The Shocker baseball program has always been special to me, and the chance to come back to Wichita is something my family and I could not be more thankful for. I am extremely excited to work for Coach Wedge, and alongside Mike Pelfrey and Loren Hibbs. My wife and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to return to Wichita State.”
Sirianni also served as an associate scout for the Cleveland Indians from 2007-11, which overlaps the time when Wedge (2003-09) was manager of the Major League Baseball club. It is unclear if Wedge and Sirianni worked closely together during that time.
Before his time as volunteer assistant at WSU from 2015-16, Sirianni was the lead assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Newman from 2011-14. He also spent one season, in 2008, as an assistant coach at Iowa Western and one season, in 2007, as a volunteer assistant at Arkansas State, where he finished his playing career in 2005.
Now that Wedge and Sirianni can get to work recruiting for WSU, they will have a challenge of finishing the 2020 roster.
The Shockers graduated four seniors who were four of the team’s best players (Luke Ritter, Jordan Boyer and Mason O’Brien as hitters, then Clayton McGinness as the team’s ace), then lost two important bullpen arms to the draft with reliever Alex Segal (Atlanta Braves) and Mitchell Walters (Tampa Bay Rays) both signing contracts this summer.
There will also be a small turnover from last season, as senior catcher Noah Croft, sophomore third baseman Jake Plastiak, sophomore pitcher Cal Carver and sophomore pitcher Miller Pleimann are all departing the program. While all played last season for WSU, none were significant contributors.