Former Royals center fielder Brian McRae is expected to join Shawnee Mission East as an assistant baseball coach this spring, further deepening the Royals’ connections to the Lancers.
First-year coach Will Gorden, who previously led Bishop Miege baseball, announced the news on Thursday afternoon on Twitter.
The hiring of McRae has yet to be formally approved by the Shawnee Mission School District. His application is in the process of being submitted to the board.
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McRae will join a revamped staff — former coach Jerrod Ryherd left for the same position at Blue Valley Southwest after eight seasons leading the Lancers — that Gorden said will boast about 23 years of professional baseball experience.
“(McRae) brings a wealth of big-league experience,” said Gorden, who was a head coach at one of MLB’s academies in China until this year. “He’s been a mentor to a lot of young men in a lot of different ways. For me to have a guy with as much experience that he has around a group of young players (will be useful). We’re trying to instruct them for how to play the game of baseball. Nobody knows it better than someone who’s been around it his entire life.”
McRae was the Royals’ first-round pick in the 1985 draft out of Blue Springs High School, which he attended while his father, Hal, was in the middle of a 14-year career as a designated hitter and left fielder for the Royals from 1973-87.
The younger McRae played for the Royals from 1990-94 and was managed by his father at Kauffman Stadium during his last three years in a Kansas City uniform. Brian McRae rounded out a 10-year major-league career with stints with the Cubs, Mets, Rockies and Blue Jays.
McRae was recently a student manager for the University of Missouri baseball team. He joined that staff last August after spending four years as an assistant at Park University.
The gig at SM East isn’t the only coaching endeavor McRae has on his plate. He is the general manager of the Kansas City Sluggers youth baseball program, where he has been an instructor. He also manages the Victoria HarbourCats, a Canadian team that plays in a collegiate wood-bat league in the Pacific Northwest. He plans to lead his own college program in the future.
McRae will spend the next several months finishing up a bachelor’s degree and helping the SM East Lancers, who lost to eventual state champion Blue Valley in regionals and finished 19-3 last season.
The Royals’ connections to SM East run deep. All three of George Brett’s sons, Jackson, Dylan and Robin, played baseball there earlier this decade. Jackson and Dylan also played football.
Former Royals third baseman Joe Randa has also watched his sons, Jake and Justin, play baseball together at SM East. Jake graduated in May. He was not drafted by a major-league team. He enrolled at Northwest Florida State after de-committing from Western Kentucky.
Justin is a junior, and he plays the infield for SM East alongside sophomore Robert Moore, the son of Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
“It’s not a group that probably needs a lot of guidance and help,” McRae said of the Lancers. “They’ve built a pretty good tradition over there with going to state, having draft picks and kids going on to Division-I schools. It’s a good program to be in line with.”