Former Michigan baseball standout, current MLB hitting coach linked to Wolverines’ opening

As the Michigan baseball team’s search for a new head coach continues, another former Wolverine standout has emerged as a candidate for the job. And this time, it’s one of the youngest coaches in Major League Baseball.

Michael Brdar, the hitting coach for the San Diego Padres, has reportedly emerged as a candidate for the job. D1Baseball’s Kendall Rogers has previously mentioned Brdar as a name to watch, and on Tuesday night, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee tweeted that there is confirmed interest in the 28-year-old.

“Padres hitting coach Michael Brdar is a candidate to become the head coach at his alma mater, the University of Michigan, “Acee tweeted. “He played and later served as a program assistant for Wolverines. Brdar declined comment. But he said to love the Padres and the major leagues. “

Though just 28, Brdar has risen quickly through the coaching ranks. After transferring to Michigan and starring for the Wolverines in 2016 and 2017 – he was named first-team All-Big Ten in 2017 with 75 hits, a .310 batting average and a .969 fielding percentage – he was drafted in the 36th round by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Overcoming two torn labrums just to get through his collegiate career, his professional career only lasted 31 games in 2017, before he returned to Michigan as a program assistant focusing on analytics in 2018. He became a volunteer on-field assistant coach in 2019, the season Michigan made a stunning run to the College World Series.

Brdar joked with Bakich as early as 2016 that he would one day return to coach the Wolverines – and take Bakich’s parking spot.

“In 16 years of coaching,” former Michigan baseball coach Erik Bakich said in 2017, “he’s one of the most savvy, high-baseball IQ players that I’ve coached by far. He’s like having another coach on the field and is going to make a tremendous coach someday. I look out to shift a player on the field, and he’s already shifted them. I could see him coaching in college or getting into pro ball as a manager or roving infield instructor. He also could be a valuable front-office asset. “

In 2020, Brdar interviewed the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants, landing as the Giants’ assistant minor league hitting instructor. He was promoted to minor league hitting instructor the following year, then landed the Padres’ hitting-coach job this spring.

San Diego is currently first in the National League West division standings, are 14th in the league in batting average, ninth in runs per game and are ninth in the league in on-base percentage.

“I knew 20 minutes into his interview that I had a pretty good sense I was gonna hire him,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said prior to the 2022 season. “He blew me away. And if you’d told me three or four years ago, I’d have a 27-year-old hitting coach, I probably would have said, ‘No.’ But he is that good, that knowledgeable. ”

Other known candidates for the Michigan head-coaching job include Central Michigan head coach Jordan Bischel and former Michigan and Chicago Cubs player Bobby Scales. Connecticut head coach Jim Penders and Detroit Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter have removed their names from consideration this week.

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