JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Xan Barksdale has been named assistant baseball coach at ETSU, head coach Tony Skole announced on Friday. Barksdale arrives at ETSU from the University of Louisville, where he served as assistant coach for the last five years.
“I am extremely excited about the hiring of Xan Barksdale,” said Skole. “He is one of the top, young coaches in our profession. The energy, passion and excitement he will bring to our program are unparalleled.
“Xan has tons of charisma and is an extremely hard worker. He comes from a very successful program at the University of Louisville and was highly recommended.”
Barksdale joined the Cardinal staff after spending three seasons in the Atlanta Braves system. While at Louisville, Barksdale worked with the Cardinal catchers and assisted with the hitters in addition to performing other administrative duties.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to coach at ETSU,” said Barksdale. “The baseball program has been steadily improving over the past few years, and the administration has shown tremendous support by breaking ground on a beautiful new baseball stadium. I would really like to thank Coach Skole and ETSU for giving me the opportunity to become a Buccaneer. Coach Skole and I have the same goals of winning the Atlantic Sun and getting into the NCAA’s consistently. I’m really looking forward to working hard and bringing championship trophies to Johnson City.”
This past season, Barksdale had a significant impact on freshman catcher Jeff Gardner, who finished second on the squad with a .333 batting average, while also adding three home runs and 13 RBIs. In addition, catcher J.J. Ethel finished 2011 by throwing out 16 baserunners, while being drafted in the 49th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During the 2010 season, Louisville catcher Jeff Arnold earned Second-Team All-BIG EAST recognition after hitting .306 with three home runs and 32 RBI. Following the season, Arnold was selected in the 26th Round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the San Francisco Giants.
In 2009, Arnold earned All-BIG EAST Tournament honors and was a Preseason All-BIG EAST selection for 2010. Under the guidance of Barksdale, Louisville catchers had a stretch of 77 consecutive games from 2007 to 2009 without committing an error behind the plate.
In 2008, Louisville catcher Derrick Alfonso earned First-Team All-BIG EAST honors throwing out an impressive 20 of 32 baserunners while working with Barksdale. During the 2007 season, Alfonso was named Second-Team All-BIG EAST, throwing out 29 of 60 baserunners.
Barksdale signed a free agent contract with the Braves in July of 2004 and competed for the Braves minor league affiliates in the Gulf Coast (GCL Braves), South Atlantic (Rome) and Carolina Leagues (Myrtle Beach). He played the final two seasons with former Cardinal Mark Jurich.
Prior to his pro career, he played for two seasons at Ole Miss while current Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell was an assistant. He was proclaimed “most dedicated” in 2004 and completed his bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in math.
Following high school, Barksdale attended Holmes Community College for two seasons – the same JUCO that Major League Baseball star Roy Oswalt attended. While at Holmes, he earned an associate’s degree in engineering, was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honorary fraternity away from the field and was a two-time All-State selection and All-Region honoree in 2002 on the field.
Barksdale was All-State and All-Conference and was selected to play in an All-Star Game following his senior season at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Madison, Miss. He was born on December 7, 1981, in Memphis, Tenn.
In addition to his coaching duties, Barksdale also developed the product called Catcher’s Thumb (www.CatchersThumb.com) and has a catching website (www.catching-101.com) that is devoted to helping catchers all over the country improve their skills with videos, articles, drills and other useful information.
“Xan is one of the top catching coaches in the country and is extremely knowledgeable on the offensive side of the game as well,” said Skole. “Most importantly, he is a great person who our players will benefit from being around on a daily basis. I couldn’t be more excited about this hire and having Xan joining our baseball family.”