Katelyn Chostner, Editor-in-Chief
This past July, the University of Missouri–St. Louis Athletics announced the hiring of a new assistant baseball coach. Branch Kloess has an expansive history with coaching and professional baseball with a specialty in pitching.
Kloess showed talent in high school, pitching two perfect games and was named the 2002 4A Player of the Year. He played at Florida Atlantic University where he completed a bachelor’s in communications. The effort and time he dedicated to the sport turned into a professional baseball career in which he played professionally for seven seasons around 2009.
According to UMSL Athletics, Kloess has been with the Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres and the Oakland Athletics. He has a large collection of accomplishments, including Pioneer Pitcher of the Year and Southern League Pitcher of the Week in 2011.
After his professional baseball career, Kloess decided to become a pitching coach. Every off-season during his pro-ball days he would help his friend coach a high school baseball team. This was the deciding factor that hooked Kloess into coaching.
“Once I got done playing [professionally] I kind of knew that was the route I wanted to go. I wanted to give back everything that I’ve learned with this game and so far, it’s awesome,” said Kloess.
UMSL baseball is gearing up for their upcoming season next year and will be starting their fall practices soon. Kloess has been working on recruitment for the 2019-20 school year. Since he is not from the St. Louis area, Kloess has had to learn the places to best recruit new team members.
“For me, I’ve kind of had to hit the ground running … familiarizing myself with other programs around [St. Louis] to look for where the best players are going to come from that are going to help us the most,” said Kloess.
Since the team is just now starting their training season, the coaches are looking at where they are with players and what positions need to be filled for the next school year. Baseball teams are always looking for new positions to fill.
“You always need pitching and for us to bring in pitchers who are going to be able to pitch in the GLVC we have to recruit well. That’s our main goal right now. And we’re always looking for catching, it would be nice to have those key positions,” said Kloess.
Kloess seems ready to coach at UMSL with his pitching past. One of the key things helping him be a better pitching coach is knowing what it is like to be in the position of the player. During his playing years, Kloess endured an elbow injury.
After a lot of hard work, he had figured out how to train himself back into the game after his injury. In professional baseball there are so many different pitching coaches that Kloess felt there was no consistency. This made him decide he needed to become his own pitching coach, so he would have access to steady training. Being able to train himself was one of the aspects he feels helps him train best.
“I think my ability to break down the mechanics and see what works for some players and what doesn’t work sets me apart,” said Kloess.
His outlook on this upcoming season is bright. With last year’s overall at 21-29 Kloess plans on bringing change to the scores alongside Head Baseball Coach Cory Wahl.
“Our goal is for every player we bring in to get an education, but at the same time we want every player to be able to able to play at the next level … Being able to share my experience of playing for several years in professional baseball and if that’s the dream they want to have we’re going to put them in the best position to do that,” said Kloess.
Overall, Kloess seems to be a great addition to UMSL baseball with his positive outlook on training and his goal to help student athletes become the best they can be.