Chris Prothro was introduced as the next head baseball coach at Eastern Kentucky University on Thursday after former head coach Edwin Thompson departed for a new head coach position at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Prothro comes to EKU after helping the University of South Alabama capture two conference championships, make two NCAA Regional appearances and compile a 152-104 record in five seasons as an assistant coach.
“We were looking for the right coach to put us into a regional,” Director of Athletics Matt Roan said. “We needed a sound baseball guy who was a top flight recruiter.”
At South Alabama, Prothro led the efforts that resulted in the 2018 recruiting class being ranked 25th in the nation. The 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020 classes also earned recognition by national collegiate baseball publications.
“The number one thing that I’ve learned is that recruiting will always be initially a relationship based exercise. You have to be able to communicate a vision. You have to be able to be honest and upfront with what the expectations are in a program,” Prothro said.
Prothro said creating a recruiting network is an important part of having a highly rated recruiting class. He also stated that a key to strong recruiting is to involve people that are passionate about the team and school.
“He is going to build strong relationships on our team,” Roan said… “We know that we want to have success right away.”
Prothro emphasized his appreciation to the former coaching staff for building a strong foundation.
“I’ve met with our players individually over the last three days and I’ve told all of them that you’ll never hear me tell them that they are something they can’t do,” Prothro said.
Prothro has already started practices with the team and hopes to evaluate the players more along the way with fresh eyes.
“I was very pleased with the level of skill and ability of the players that are currently here,” said Prothro. “I think that they are hungry to get better. I think they are hungry to get coached. I think they are hungry to achieve high expectations. They have big goals and big dreams and I’m all for that.”
Prothro said that getting his players comfortable about the new coaching change is an important aspect of having success during the off season and to prepare for the 2021 season.
“I’m evaluating them all from the start as if I didn’t know them. On purpose I did not call people to ask them about what was going on with the roster,” he said.
Prothro stated that when the time is right, players that have earned “stripes” in the baseball program and have shown excellence on and off the field, that will be considered during the evaluation process.
“If you’ve done great things, if you’ve done good things, if you’ve done not so great things with an Eastern Kentucky uniform on, that should matter but right now it doesn’t,” Prothro stated. “Right now I’m thinking everybody of what they are and that’s the expectations that they are going to do things right, go hard at it, they’re going to listen, they’re going to have freedom to make mistakes, they’re going to have freedom to disagree, they’re going to have freedom to ask why and we’ll go forward with that in mind.”
Out of the 46 players who began practicing this week, only one player, Jacob Ferris, has decided to transfer. Ferris will be continuing his baseball career at the University of Louisville.
“We want people who want to be here,” Prothro said.
In his first year, Prothro said the Colonels will tailor their style of play based on what is currently here. He said that they have a team that is very athletic and that can help with their style of play this season.
Prothro mentioned that fans can expect to see players stealing more bases and having power hitters knocking triples and home runs.
So far in practices, Prothro and his graduate assistants have been working with the team on bunt hits so they can put pressure on their opponents.
“I expect versatility in our offense and we will demand, especially in an offensive conference, that our pitchers limit the free stuff that they give up whether that’s walks or hit by pitches,” he said.
As Prothro adjusts to a new community and program, he hopes to get his team prepared for the spring baseball season.
“I’m very excited about what’s here and what we can do moving forward to make this the best it can possibly be,” Prothro added.