Eric Jagers dreamed as a kid about playing Major League Baseball one day.
He’s got the next best thing.
Jagers, 27, is the assistant pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds. He became the youngest pitching coach in the Major Leagues when he was hired in December 2020 at just 25.
A promising pitcher out of Davenport (Iowa) Assumption High School, Jagers, the son of Tom and Gail Jagers of Princeton, saw his career sidetracked by injuries while pitching for the University of Iowa.
He made connections with Driveline Baseball in 2018, a Seattle-based performance center founded by Kyle Boddy, now the Reds’ pitching coordinator. From there he became a pitching strategist in the Phillies’ Minor League system in 2019.
“When I got hurt early at Iowa, I kind of turned into a little bit of a player-coach,” Jagers said. “Then went and did the same thing I thrive on. I’ve come across some really good people that have kind of helped me along the way. Probably the biggest thing is meeting a lot of really good people.”
Jagers loves his job.
“I’ve always enjoyed being around the game and competing. Just being a part of a team is what I really enjoy,” he said.
From the visitors dugout of Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 16 Jagers explained his role as the Reds assistant pitching coach, which he said is basically a little bit of everything.
“It’s a support role to give our pitchers and our pitching coach and our bullpen coach information on the opposing hitters. Help them with creating the best version of themselves,” he said. “Whether it’s a throwing program or it’s a drill progression integrating with the strength and conditioning group or our health performance group to keep them alive and well over 162 [games].
“Try to maximize the talent that we can out of our players and give them enough possible chances to succeed. I think the biggest thing is the wins and losses. Even the losses, to be there and where do we go next. To have a shoulder for those guys to lean on, keep them positive through out it. 162 is a long, long time.”
He joked that it’s easier said than done to tell the Reds pitchers how to get guys out like Cardinals sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
“There’s a little bit of a pat on the rear, and go get ‘em,” he said with a laugh. “It’s funny when you’re facing elite hitters like those guys, a little bit of that goes back to less what they do and more about what you do and what you do really well. Not a lot of holes to attack for those guys.
“We try to watch as much video as we can, keep up with their recent performance. Try to identify any little place we can go.”
Tom Jagers, who will get to see Eric and the Reds play the Cubs in the Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 11, said his son certainly is living the dream.
“He loves his job. He has always had a great work ethic and would constantly want me to play catch or have me pitch to him,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments so far and know he has a very bright future.”
Things should be interesting at the Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville, Iowa, as Tom will be taking his mom, Mary, Eric’s grandmother, who is a big Cubs fan.
Eric Jagers, who said he makes it to Princeton over the holidays to see his family, played on the Assumption team while living in Iowa with his mother. That team placed second in the Iowa State Tournament his senior year. To see the Knights make it back to state this summer feels “like all’s right in the world,” he said.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at email@example.com.