Former Owl Taking on New Role Within Major League Baseball

Former Owl Taking on New Role Within Major League Baseball

Prior to the 2018 Major League Baseball season, the Toronto Blue Jays hired former professional baseball player and Rice Owl, David Aardsma, as their newest coordinator within their player development department. The announcement came from Aardsma himself in early February during his weekly podcast, “The Bullpen with DA.” Aardsma simultaneously announced his official retirement from baseball as a player during this podcast.

David Aardsma

Aardsma works under Gil Kim, the Director of Player Development for the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have been making great strides in their player development department to help each player within the organization reach their maximum potential.

"I'm really excited about this role with the Blue Jays," Aardsma said. "Really excited about the people there and what they're building. This is an opportunity I couldn't pass up. This is essentially my dream role."

Having spent parts of nine seasons with eight different Major League Baseball teams from 2004-15, Aardsma has amassed a great deal of experience with different styles of player development. For almost every player, the transition from high school or college baseball into professional baseball can be an adjustment. Certain ways of living, such as preparation, nutrition, financial strategies, and training—mental and physical—have to be altered. Even still, the game has changed since Aardsma’s professional career began, and he learned to change with it.

“My career in MLB has prepared me in many ways for my role as Coordinator of Player Development with the Blue Jays,” Aardsma said. “The main things the Blue Jays were looking for was somebody with playing experience and also an understanding of advanced statistics and technology. Early in my career we didn’t use advanced statistics or much technology, but that has changed over the last several seasons. If I wanted to succeed in my career, I needed to evolve and change. Understanding these tools and how to apply them gave me a leg up on my competition on and off the field.”

When looking at the Blue Jays front office changes over the last several seasons, a former player with this advanced understanding of what teams are looking for nowadays, Aardsma was the perfect candidate. However, it did not just come naturally for Aardsma. He had to reeducate himself in the ways of player development. Luckily for him, Rice was able to help him do just that.

“Over the last three seasons of my career I made it a point to understand biomechanics, strength and conditioning, and analytics,” Aardsma said. But the important thing that separated me was that I learned how to apply these to pitching using myself as the subject.”

The courses Aardsma mentioned, aside from helping him evolve as a player and prepare himself for his new role, have helped him inch ever closer to another goal: earning his Rice degree. Aardsma was able to take many of those courses during his professional playing career.

Before becoming a first round draft pick in the 2003 MLB draft, Aardsma was an integral member of the Owls’ 2003 National Championship team. During his time at Rice, Aardsma began his Sport Management degree. Now, with his playing career behind him, Aardsma intends to fulfill a promise made to himself.

“Graduating has always been a goal of mine. My dream of playing professional baseball became reality when I got drafted, but I made a promise to myself to finish my degree,” said Aardsma. “It is incredibly exciting to know that I am close to finishing. But just like being a closer in baseball, I am not celebrating until I have finished my last class.”

Aardsma is one of many 37 Owls who have been fortunate enough to play Major League Baseball. Now, like other notable Rice Baseball alumni have done following their playing careers, Aardsma looks forward to following their footsteps and earning his degree.

Chace Sarchet, a senior from Lubbock, Texas, is majoring in Sport Management.