New names have surfaced in the Loyola Marymount coaching search. Raising money has been a major issue so far, although several candidates have said they would be willing to take significant pay cuts if it meant they could land a head coaching job like that in Southern California.
If LMU can raise enough money, then San Francisco coach Nino Giarratano could be in the mix, according to one source close to the situation. Giarratano is one of the best coaches on the West Coast, and he would be a tremendous hire for LMU, but don’t expect him to leave for a discount. Just having Giarratano’s name as a potential candidate could make it easier for LMU to raise funds, however.
A more likely candidate, perhaps, is Los Angeles Angels scout Bobby Dejardin. A former LMU player from 1986-88, Dejardin has played, coached and scouted for the Yankees and now scouts Southern California for the Angels. He has very good contacts on the West Coast and a good reputation as an instructor. As an LMU alumnus, Dejardin would be very motivated to take the job and would probably be a more cost-effective choice than Giarratano.
Ron Polk just couldn’t keep himself away from the game he loves. Just more than two months after he retired from Mississippi State after his 35th year as a head coach, Polk has joined Alabama-Birmingham’s coaching staff as a volunteer assistant. UAB head coach Brian Shoop was an assistant under Polk at Mississippi State from 1983-89. Polk could not be reached for comment as his cell phone has been disconnected.
Polk did not fade quietly into the night after leaving MSU. When the Bulldogs hired John Cohen–his former assistant–to replace him instead of Polk’s preferred choice (Tommy Raffo), Polk said he felt like he had been punched in the stomach, and he said he wanted his name taken off the side of MSU’s stadium. His stance later softened somewhat, but the winningest coach in Southeastern Conference history hadn’t shaken the baseball bug. The 64-year-old is a confirmed bachelor who has adopted his former players and coaches as his family. Now he’ll help one of his former apprentices try to build UAB into a Conference USA power.
UPDATE: The Blazers held a press conference today to officially announce the Polk hiring. Shoop announced that UAB’s previous volunteer assistant, Jared Walker, will shift to a director of baseball operations position. [...] Continue Reading »
Miami hired former Barry (Fla.) player and coach Rey Fuentes on Monday to replace assistant coach Gino DiMare, who left in June for family reasons. Fuentes will work with Miami’s outfielders and hitters and coach first base. Fuentes is very familiar with South Florida, having played high school ball at MIami’s Coral Park High before spending four years at Barry as a player and six as an assistant.
"I’m excited about the addition of Rey Fuentes to our coaching staff," Hurricanes coach Jim Morris said. "He’s a hard-working coach that has a great understanding of the game and is as organized as they come. I have no doubt he’ll fit right in at Miami."
Illinois State isn’t expected to make an official announcement until early August, but Tulane beat the Redbirds to the punch. The Green Wave announced yesterday that Chad Sutter has been promoted to associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, replacing Mark Kingston, who has accepted the same job at Illinois State. Kingston will be named head coach at Illinois State upon Jim Brownlee’s retirement after next season, similar to the arrangement Texas Tech worked out with Dan Spencer a year ago. Tulane also hired former Green Wave standout Jack Cressend as assistant coach.
Getting Kingston is a boon for Illinois State, which is in the early stages of a $3 million stadium project and will now have a blue-chip recruiter to boot. Kingston, who spent a year as an assistant at ISU in 1999 prior to joining Tulane’s staff, is simply one of the nation’s best recruiters, and he has been on the short list for head coaching jobs around the nation for several years now. In seven seasons at Tulane, he has also established a reputation as a quality hitting coach and excellent teacher of fundamentals. With Kingston at the helm and a brand new ballpark, Illinois State has a chance to become a force in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Loyola Marymount fired Frank Cruz on Wednesday, ending his 12-year tenure as head coach.
"I want to thank Frank Cruz for his years of dedicated service to LMU as head coach," LMU athletic director Bill Husak said in a statement. "Frank can be proud of many of his team’s accomplishments in the past 12 years, both on the field and in the classroom. However, I felt it was time for the baseball program to move in a new direction."
The Lions went just 23-32 in 2008 and have posted a sub-.500 record in Cruz’s tenure (329-356-3), but there’s likely more to this story than meets the eye. The timing of this move is peculiar–LMU hasn’t played a game in two months, and if the team’s on-field performance was such a concern, Cruz likely would have been dismissed closer to the end of the season. Cruz is well respected on the West Coast and in college baseball circles, having served as head coach of Team USA in 2004, spent four years on the NCAA rules committee and spent four years on Mike Gillespie’s coaching staff at Southern California (Gillespie still regards Cruz as one of his best friends). Cruz has overseen significant improvements in LMU’s facilities and led the program to three straight West Coast Conference titles and regional bids from 1998-2000, though the Lions haven’t reached regionals since. And Cruz has another year remaining on his contract, leading to speculation on the West Coast that one of his assistants could be promoted to head coach to save money. The school’s release said a replacement will be named in the near future, which lends the internal promotion rumors more credence. All three assistants have been at LMU just a year, but pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Drew Keehn would seem like the most obvious candidate. There are also rumblings that LMU could name Keehn and Shane Schumaker co-head coaches for a year. [...] Continue Reading »
Auburn announced Tuesday that Scott Foxhall and Matt Heath will join new head coach John Pawlowski’s coaching staff. Foxhall and Heath both served on Pawlowski’s staff at College of Charleston–Foxhall as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the last nine years, and Heath as the hitting coach for the last two. Foxhall was thought to be a leading candidate to replace Pawlowski at CofC, but when the Cougars hired Monte Lee, he followed Pawlowski to Auburn.
"They have been with me for a number of years and that makes the transition a little easier," Pawlowski said of Foxhall and Heath. "That allows me to keep my same system in place, and I think Auburn will benefit immediately from the addition of these guys."
Florida State catcher Buster Posey added yet another piece of hardware to his trophy case Wednesday, winning USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award. Posey received the award at a ceremony in the Sports Museum of America in New York, beating out fellow finalists Gordon Beckham, Aaron Crow, Brian Matusz and Brett Wallace. Posey swept every major player of the year award in 2008, including Baseball America’s Player of the Year award.
Posey becomes just the second catcher to win the Golden Spikes in the award’s 31-year history, joining Georgia Tech’s Jason Varitek in 1994. There was little suspense surrounding the award, as Posey led the nation in batting (.472), on-base percentage (.572) and slugging (.908) and led Florida State with six saves without giving up an earned run. He helped the Seminoles get to the College World Series for the first time since 2000.
"Each year it becomes increasingly more difficult for our selection committee to select just one athlete for the Golden Spikes Award, and 2008 was no exception," said USA Baseball executive director/CEO Paul Seiler, who presented the award to Posey in partnership with Major League Baseball and MLB Advanced Media. "Buster Posey, however, separated himself from the other candidates with an exceptional year both at and behind the plate and as a leader of his Florida State ball club. We are honored to present him with the 2008 trophy."
Like College of Charleston did earlier this month, Charleston Southern has hired an alumnus who had been serving as an assistant coach elsewhere in the Palmetto State to be its new head coach. The Buccaneers named 1994 CSU graduate Stuart Lake their head coach Monday. Lake had spent the previous two years as an assistant at The Citadel and has spent time on the staffs at South Carolina, Mississippi and College of Charleston in his 13-year coaching career.
“I am pleased to have an alumnus as our new head coach,” Charleston Southern athletics director Hank Small said. “He is so familiar with CSU, but also has a great amount of experience. He has worked with some of the best coaches, not only in the area, but the country, in Ray Tanner (South Carolina), John Pawlowski (CofC), Mike Bianco (Ole Miss) and Fred Jordan (The Citadel).” [...] Continue Reading »
The Hampton Whalers’ inaugural season has already been a magical one, and the summer is just halfway over. Hampton righthander Phil Klein, a rising sophomore at Youngstown State, threw the first perfect game in Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League history in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, needing just 71 pitches to retire all 21 batters he faced in the seven-inning contest. Klein struck out six and went to three-ball counts just three times. He snared a hot comebacker off the bat of Frank Esposito for the final out, just a day after Esposito had broken up Andrew Guarrasi’s no-hitter in the seventh inning. That secured the first ACBL perfect game in the league’s modern era, which dates back to 1977, and set off a frenzied celebration on the field.
"I had a lot of fun with it, and I know everyone there had a lot of fun with it," Klein told Hamptons.com. "Everything worked out well for us–the offense came through, the pitching was good and the defense did a good job. When you’ve got all three of those things working, it’s hard to lose."
Klein has allowed just one earned run over his last three starts to lower his ERA to 1.16. He’ll represent the Kaiser Division in the league’s all-star game, which was originally scheduled for yesterday but was postponed by weather until July 28 at St. John’s.
We’ve got a couple of summer league notes from last week to pass along. On Wednesday, Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez joined Frank Thomas as the only players ever to hit three home runs in a game with wood bats in the Cape Cod League. Dominguez blasted three homers for the Hyannis Mets in a 6-4 win over Falmouth, driving in five runs in the process and boosting his league-leading homer total to six. He’s added two more since, giving him eight homers for the summer–three more than second-place Connor Powers. Dominguez was a fifth-round pick of the Rockies this June as a draft-eligible sophomore, and his homer binge only increases the chances that Colorado will make a push to sign him before the Aug. 15 deadline. Of course, Dominguez’s power has never been in doubt–he’s been one of the nation’s premier power hitters for the last two years at Louisville. Dominguez has continued to strike out in bushels this summer–he has 28 whiffs and six walks in 90 at-bats–but he is batting a very respectable .278 and leading the league with a .611 slugging percentage and 14 extra-base hits.
On Friday, the Valley League announced that a 12th team will join the league in 2009. The expansion Rockbridge Rapids will play home games under the newly installed lights at Cap’n Dick Smith Field on the campus of Washington and Lee University in Rockbridge County, Va. The addition means the league will have doubled in size from six teams to 12 since 2001.
USA Baseball’s collegiate national team scored a landmark 4-1 win over Cuba in the championship game of Haarlem Baseball Week on Sunday afternoon. Cuba’s team was the same minus one player from its 2004 Olympic gold medal team and its 2006 World Baseball Classic silver medal team, and it is the same team that will represent Cuba at the Beijing Olympics next month. Sunday marked the first time a U.S. collegiate national team has beaten a Cuban Olympic team in a tournament title game, and it was the second win for Team USA over Cuba in an eight-day span, following a 1-0 win last Sunday. The Americans finished with a 7-0 record in Haarlem to improve to 14-0 overall on the summer.
"What this team has accomplished is amazing," Team USA coach Rob Walton said. "These players may not realize the significance of this victory right now, but this was a big win. To beat a team with the history of success that Cuba has is something of which these guys should be proud.”
A newcomer to Team USA played a major role in the win. Cal State Fullerton first baseman Jared Clark, who replaced injured Kentrail Davis on the national team roster last Friday, hit a tie-breaking solo homer to lead off the sixth, giving the Americans a lead they would not relinquish. Clark had made a diving catch in foul ground to end a Cuban threat in the fourth inning after Cuba had already scored an unearned run–its only run of the game. [...] Continue Reading »
Rod Delmonico, who spent 18 years as the head coach at Tennessee before serving as a volunteer assistant at Florida State last year, has accepted an assistant coaching position at Florida International, the Golden Panthers announced yesterday. FIU coach Turtle Thomas said Delmonico will be heavily involved with the recruiting and will oversee the infielders, bunting and baserunning, as well as assist Thomas with the hitters.
“When you hire staff members you wonder whether you’ve hit a single, double, triple or home run. We hit a grand slam with the hiring of Rod Delmonico,” Thomas said in a release. “He brings so much to the table from a recruiting standpoint. He has been a head coach in the SEC and is a great all-around coach, especially in the areas of baserunning, the short bunting game and infield play. He just has a great general overview of the game of baseball.”
Delmonico had been rumored to be in the mix for the head jobs at Florida Atlantic and Central Florida, and FIU must be thrilled to get him as an assistant.
Florida State, meanwhile, replaced Delmonico as volunteer assistant with Charles Assey, who spent last year as an assistant at Presbyterian.
USA Baseball announced yesterday that Tulane coach Rick Jones will head its collegiate national team in 2009. Jones, who was Baseball America’s 2005 Coach of the Year, served as an assistant for Team USA in 1989 and 1990, when he served as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. He performed the same duties for Georgia Tech from 1990-’93 before heading to Tulane and building the Green Wave into an annual contender, culminating in a College World Series run in 2005. [...] Continue Reading »
On Friday, the (Lorain, Ohio) Morning Journal reported that Oklahoma State ace lefty and Ohio native Andy Oliver was suing the NCAA over the indefinite suspension that was levied against him just prior to the NCAA tournament. The complaint also names his former adviser, Robert Baratta, among others, and claims Oliver was the victim of "unscrupulous and unethical behavior" cause by Baratta and his law firm after Oliver informed them he was switching to the Scott Boras Corp.
According to the suit, Baratta threatened to tell the NCAA and Oklahoma State that Oliver received improper benefits unless Oliver paid $113,750 for services rendered. Baratta followed through with his threat, sending letters to the NCAA and the university on May 19, and Oliver was subsequently suspended pending further investigation. [...] Continue Reading »
We’ve got a couple of interesting news items from last week to pass along. On Tuesday, Arkansas State hired former Mississippi State assistant Tommy Raffo to be its head coach, replacing Keith Kessinger, who declined the school’s contract extension offer at the end of the season. Raffo spent the last 15 years at MSU, where he was the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, and he was one of the front-runners to succeed Ron Polk as the head coach in Starkville. But when the Bulldogs hired John Cohen away from Kentucky, the Tribe was eager to court Raffo, one of the most highly regarded assistants in the nation. He’ll hit the ground running in Jonesboro.
“We are extremely pleased to hire a coach with the background and experience of competing at the highest level that Tommy Raffo brings,” Arkansas State athletics director Dr. Dean Lee said in a statement. “We had an extremely strong pool of candidates for this position, and feel that Coach Raffo was unquestionably the best fit to take over the Arkansas State baseball program. Tommy is highly respected in the coaching field for his integrity and for his superior knowledge of the game.”
On Wednesday, Evansville filled its head coaching vacancy from within. The Purple Aces replaced former coach David Seifert with Seifert’s top assistant, former Evansville infielder Wes Carroll, who starred for the Aces from 1998 to 2001 and reached Triple-A with the Nationals (where he played with his brother Jamey, now an infielder for the Indians). Shortly after retiring from pro ball in 2006, Carroll joined Seifert’s staff at Evansville, serving as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. [...] Continue Reading »
Chad Holbrook has been part of the North Carolina baseball program as a player or assistant coach since 1990, and he’s played a huge role in building the Tar Heels into the national superpower they have become. But he won’t be around to reap the latest fruits of his labors–UNC moving into its brand-new ballpark next year. Instead, he’ll help the other Carolina open its own sparkling new facility.
Holbrook left his job as North Carolina’s associate head coach and recruiting coordinator on Monday to accept the same position on Ray Tanner’s staff at South Carolina. It’s a phenomenal hire for the Gamecocks, whose recruiting coordinator Monte Lee left to take the head job at College of Charleston last week. Holbrook might very well be the nation’s best recruiter and is underrated as a hitting coach; the Tar Heels have posted seven of the eight highest team batting averages in school history under his watch.
"I am very excited to have Coach Holbrook and his family become a part of Gamecock Nation," Tanner said in a statement. "He is truly one of the finest coaches and recruiters in all of college baseball. His experience and expertise will be an asset to our baseball program." [...] Continue Reading »
Michigan State announced Wednesday that Jake Boss will be its 16th head baseball coach. Boss, who was named Mid-American Conference coach of the year in his first season with Eastern Michigan, will bring postseason experience to the struggling Spartans, whose head coach David Grewe left for an assistant job at Louisiana State last week. Before taking Eastern Michigan to the NCAA tournament in his first season with the program, Boss was an assistant on Michigan teams that qualified multiple times. He has gone to regionals the last four years and five of the last six. It is his run with Eastern Michigan, though, that is most impressive.
The Eagles were picked to finish fifth in the division, but won 25 of their last 40 games, swept through the MAC touranment, winning the four games by a combined 21 runs, and returned to the regionals for the first time since 2003. He became the second coach in MAC history to win the conference tournament and qualify for the NCAA tournament in his first season. Boss, a 37-year-old Lansing native, said it was his goal when he began coaching to return to East Lansing as MSU’s head coach. He’ll join a Michigan State program that went 24-29 last year (12-18 in Big Ten play) and failed to qualify for the Big Ten tournament, but is in the midst of constructing a brand new ballpark. [...] Continue Reading »
As first reported by the L.A. Times, California prep righthander Trevor Bauer has made the decision to graduate from Newhall (Calif.) Hart High in December and enroll at UCLA this spring—just in time for the 2009 collegiate baseball season. In 2008, as a junior in high school, Bauer was a perfect 12-0, 0.79 in 70.2 innings pitched, striking out 106 batters.
Bauer is considered one one of the better high school pitching prospects in the 2009 draft class, but if he follows through and enrolls early at UCLA, he would not even go through the draft until 2011, when he’ll be a college junior.
Two weeks ago, he attended USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars and was one of 32 players selected to participate in the 18U national team trials in mid-July. While at the tournament, Bauer made two starts—five innings a piece—and struck out 17 of the 36 hitters he faced, allowing only six hits.
Listed at 6-feet-1, 175 pounds, Bauer used mainly a fastball and curveball to retire hitters, mixing in an occasional changeup. Bauer’s fastball was typically between 88-89 mph but he did flash some 90s and 91s on the radar gun. Bauer’s curve was around 70 mph and changeup 76 mph.
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