Ray Fisher Stadium will welcome a new coach for the Michigan baseball team’s 2024 season.
After former associate head coach Ben Greenspan departed for Northwestern in August, Wolverines coach Tracy Smith had a spot to fill on his coaching staff. And on Monday, Michigan announced former Washington State assistant coach Jake Valentine as its new assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.
“When the position opened we set out to hire a proven national recruiter with a track record for developing young men on and off the field,” Smith said in a statement Sept. 18. “We also wanted someone who would embrace and understand what it means to be at the University of Michigan. We can confidently announce today that we found our guy in Jake Valentine.”
Valentine brings a considerable amount of experience to the Wolverines’ coaching staff. He served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Cougars in 2023 and the University of Portland from 2016-2022. Additionally, during his time with Portland, Valentine served as the team’s associate head coach in his final year with the program. Before those stops, Valentine also coached at a collection of other colleges throughout his 12-year career in various roles such as hitting coach.
Many of Valentine’s most impressive accomplishments have come in player development. He’s worked closely with MLB-level talent such as Hunter Dozier, the eventual No. 8 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. Valentine has also mentored over 30 players to all-conference selections under his tutelage.
Through his variety of experiences, Valentine feels ready for his new position at Michigan.
“I think the more roles that you can serve and the more different hats you can wear, the better (and) more prepared you’ll be for a litany of situations,” Valentine told The Michigan Daily Tuesday. “I have served in a variety of roles in my career and I think it does help me understand not just what (Smith’s) going through … but then also the other assistants and the other support staff members.”
In a recruiting sense, Valentine’s acumen could prove to be a valuable asset to Smith’s staff. His hiring late in the recruiting cycle meant Michigan was severely limited in the crop of recruits it was able to bring in for the 2023 campaign. But with Valentine at the helm for the foreseeable future and Smith’s stable dugout presence, the Wolverines may regain ample opportunities to land future prospects.
And with the new gig also comes new ways for Valentine to recruit — especially at a program as well-known as Michigan.
“The Michigan brand allows us to get into the homes of people (and) different types of athletes,” Valentine said. “(It) kind of opens the door to anybody. … It’s a pretty fun brand to recruit to so I’m excited for that piece.”
Despite being new to the Wolverines’ dugout, Valentine is looking to make an instant impact. And with both his coaching and recruiting history, that very well could be possible.
So while Ray Fisher Stadium may have a new coach in the dugout, Valentine brings a veteran mindset to the benches — and home run potential for the Wolverines.