Former Merced High star Thomas Eager is moving across the San Francisco Bay. Eager is following David Esquer from Cal to Stanford.
Esquer was named the new Stanford baseball coach in late June, replacing Cardinal coaching legend Mark Marquess who retired after this past season. Esquer, who played at Stanford, is bringing Eager with him from Cal in his same role as pitching coach.
Eager, 32, was Esquer’s pitching coach at Cal for two seasons.
“It makes you feel good,” Eager said. “If you work hard, are dedicated, things will take care of itself. When coach Esquer hired me at Cal one of the things he told me was to just be yourself. He gave me the key to the pitching staff. He gave me the key to recruiting. He allowed me to be my own person.”
Eager graduated from Merced High in 2004. He was a three-year starter for the Bears and played on the 2002 team that won a Sac-Joaquin Section championship.
After high school he pitched at Cal Poly in 2006 and 2007 before being drafted in the fifth round by the St. Louis Cardinals.
After an arm injury cut short his professional career, Eager returned to Cal Poly in 2011 to begin his coaching career.
Eager spent two seasons as the director of baseball operations at Cal Poly before he was hired as the pitching coach. Under Eager, the Mustangs had seven pitchers drafted and posted the lowest team ERA (3.05) in school history in 2014.
Eager helped mentor former Buhach Colony star Daulton Jefferies while at Cal. Jefferies was a first-round draft pick by the Oakland A’s in 2016.
“The two years I was at Cal were awesome,” said Eager, who has spent about a month on the new job at Stanford. “I came in after coach (Mike) Neu took the head coaching job at Pacific. He had put together a good team and he helped me out a lot. I enjoyed the area. I was recruiting Northern California, which is where I’m from. The support you get at Cal with the alumni is unbelievable.”
Eager was leaving for a recruiting trip to Arizona when he found out he was getting the Stanford job. He was set on recruiting players for Cal and had to switch gears to now recruit players for Stanford.
“The hardest part was trying to find polo shirts that didn’t have a logo on them in my closet,” Eager said. “For four days I was in Arizona without officially representation because I hadn’t officially signed my contract with Stanford. I spent a lot of times trying to call coaches to look for guys who could get admitted to Stanford. It was a unique trip.”
Recruiting will definitely be one of the biggest changes moving from Cal to Stanford. At Cal, Eager focused mostly on players from California. On occasion he would find players in Oregon, Washington and Arizona.
Since taking the job at Stanford, Eager has been recruiting in North Carolina, Florida and Indiana.
“National recruiting is the biggest change,” Eager said. “At Cal we primarily stayed in California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona. Stanford you’re talking national. It’s sea to sea. You’re checking out players in North Carolina or Florida. We’re looking for that good player that can meet the academic requirements of Stanford.”
Eager, his wife Jenna and his sons Trey (3) and Blake (four months) have made the move from Walnut Creek to Los Gatos.
“When I got into coaching I didn’t think this would happen,” Eager said. “My wife is from the Bay Area so she had said maybe one day you’ll be coaching at Stanford. I didn’t have Stanford ties. So I never thought I would get this opportunity. When I got the opportunity to go to Cal I thought this was it. I’m in Northern California. I’m in the Pac-12. I thought everything was going good. I was 29 at the time. I thought this is sweet. When this came along I couldn’t believe it.”
Eager hopes to one day become a head coach.
“One day I’d love to become a head coach,” Eager said. “That’s why you do this, but I’ve never chased a job. I was fortunate when I was at Cal Poly I had someone say you’re my guy and gave me the job. I didn’t know coach Esquer before I got the Cal job. He reached out to me and offered me the job and now he’s taking me with him to Stanford.
“For me, a lot of it has been just being in the right place at the right time.”