For the second time this offseason, a Division I baseball coach has died. Virginia Commonwealth announced that coach Paul Keyes, 50, lost his battle with cancer Saturday.
Keyes was diagnosed in April with stage 4 melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. He had worked at VCU since 1985 as an assistant and was head coach for the last 18 seasons, compiling a 603-428-1 record (.585 winning percentage). The Rams had 12 straight winning seasons from 1996-2007, including 46 victories in 1998 (with a team led by Brandon Inge) and 2003 (led by future big league pitchers Sean Marshall and Cla Meredith as well as 2004 first-rounder Justin Orenduff). Virginia Commonwealth made eight regional trips and won five Colonial Athletic Association titles in his tenure. [...] Continue Reading »
It looks like Arizona State won't be sharing the Cubs' new spring training facility after all.
After more than a year of negotiations with the Cubs and the city of Mesa, ASU announced Thursday that it is officially ending conversations and "moving forward with pursing other options for our baseball program," according to a release.
"ASU negotiated the original agreement in good faith," the school's release said. "However, the changes the Cubs demanded shows that they do not value the partnership with ASU, thus making a deal impossible."
Arizona State had previously entered a letter of agreement to play in the new Mesa ballpark, and it was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents. But that was not the same as reaching a formal partnership deal.
"The university approached the talks enthusiastically and readily accepted the deal as originally outlined," the school said in its statement. "But as the new Cubs management changed the original deal points and added new issues to the negotiation, the new terms became far too costly to the university, imposed too many restrictions on ASU's use of the facility and exposed the university to too great a level of financial liability for the entire complex."
So, assuming this isn't just posturing (and the Sun Devils certainly sound as though they've moved on), Arizona State will explore other stadium options, but the school reportedly lacks the funds to replace or renovate aging Packard Stadium. The Phoenix Business Journal reported a month ago that Phoenix Municipal Stadium could be an option of the Mesa deal fell apart. The stadium is currently the spring training home of the Athletics, who could move into Hohokam Stadium when the Cubs vacate that facility to move into their new $99 million ballpark.
One of college baseball's most respected and accomplished pitching coaches is leaving for a job in professional ball. Baseball America learned Sunday that Vanderbilt associate head coach Derek Johnson will become the Cubs' minor league pitching coordinator.
Johnson, the 2010 Baseball America/ABCA Assistant Coach of the Year, deserves a great deal of credit for helping Tim Corbin build Vanderbilt into an elite program on the national level. Johnson joined the Vandy staff a year before Corbin was hired as head coach in 2002, and Corbin made the wise decision to keep him on the staff. In the last decade, Johnson has earned a glowing reputation among his peers and the scouting community for his ability to develop power arms, including David Price, Mike Minor, Sonny Gray, Jeremy Sowers and plenty of others.
"He's had as much impact on our program as anyone," Corbin told BA in the fall of 2010. "I think what D.J. has done with these kids is far-reaching. He's kept them healthy, he's made each one of them better. You look at the kids, the pitchers specifically, that have come out of our program, being able to pitch at the next level—it goes without saying . . . We would not have our success without having him on our staff." [...] Continue Reading »
Coaches often say the best time to evaluate recruiting classes is four years after recruits show up on campus, when the full measure of their impact can be accurately assessed. Of course, we're a forward-thinking publication for a forward-thinking audience, and we'll always rank recruiting classes when they show up on campus in an attempt to predict which schools have bright futures ahead of them. It is instructional, however, to look back at our 2008 recruiting class rankings (subscribers only) and see how we did. This is also a way to give credit to recruiting coordinators whose classes turned out far better than initially thought.
So, below is how we would rank the 2008 recruiting classes in hindsight, based on what the players accomplished in school. Postseason success weighs heavily in our calculus, but we're also looking at whether the players in these classes were vital cornerstone players or role players who were just along for the ride. The best classes have a blend of both. Draft results have no bearing on these revised rankings, but you'll notice that most of the classes that experienced the most success also produced a number of marquee draft picks (with a glaring exception at the very top).
Overall, the rankings four years ago were pretty strong. Thirteen of our Top 25 classes in 2008 crack our "revised" list four years later. But there were a few glaring omissions from the Top 25 four years ago, led by the top-ranked class on our list.
1. SOUTH CAROLINA
2008 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Monte Lee/Chad Holbrook.
Key players: Michael Roth, Matt Price, Jackie Bradley Jr., Bobby Haney, Adam Matthews, Justin Dalles, Nick Ebert, Nolan Belcher, Adam Westmoreland.
The bottom line: Simply put, this is one of the most accomplished classes in college baseball history—the foundation for two national titles and a CWS runner-up finish. Only Bradley was drafted inside the top five rounds, which proves that sometimes the best recruiting classes aren't the most prospect-heavy. [...] Continue Reading »
Gregg Ritchie knows he raised some eyebrows when he decided to leave his job as a major league hitting coach with the Pirates in order to take over as head coach at his alma mater, George Washington. That career path is just about unheard-of.
"A lot of people say, 'That's the major leagues,' " said Ritchie, who was introduced as GW's new coach last week. "Yeah, you're right, that's the major leagues. It's a great, fantastic thing—it's unbelievable. It's the pinnacle of the baseball world, really. But at the same time, spending all that time away from your family, wanting to become a better father . . . This is a great opportunity to do something you really love, and do it somewhere you really love, and be home with your family at the same time. That's the trifecta. It made it a lot easier decision.
"I know some people don't understand it, but when it's family, it made it easier."
Ritchie said he hasn't spent a summer at home—which remains about 45 miles south of GW, where he lived in high school—since he was 15. Travel baseball, college baseball, pro baseball, followed by a successful coaching career in the pro ranks has kept Ritchie on the road since the early 1980s. [...] Continue Reading »
Georgia Tech battled injuries to its pitching staff last year, and now one of its key arms will miss all of the 2013 season, as well. Junior righthander Matt Grimes had Tommy John surgery after re-injuring his elbow in a scrimmage earlier this week.
Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall said Grimes missed most of last year with elbow problems and rested all summer. Grimes was pitching again in intrasquad scrimmages this fall, throwing three outings. His last pitch before the surgery was 91 mph, according to Hall, but he said his elbow didn't feel right.
A trip to Dr. James Andrews revealed the bad news, as Andrews recommended surgery because the MRI on Grimes' elbow looked worse than the one on file from last spring.
[...] Continue Reading »
George Washington's coaching hire was worth the long wait.
The Colonials made a splash Thursday, hiring GW alum Gregg Ritchie as their new head coach. Ritchie has spent the last two years as the major league hitting coach for the Pirates, following a five-year stint as the organization's minor league hitting coordinator. It's one thing for minor league instructors to leave for college coaching jobs, but big league coaches very seldom leave for the college ranks.
"Coming back to George Washington brings my career full circle, as in many ways this is where it all started for me," said Ritchie, a 1999 inductee into the school's athletic hall of fame. "I met my wife here at GW, and we both made a lifetime of extraordinary memories going to school and competing in the heart of the nation's capital. To have this opportunity to coach at my alma mater and play our home games in the premier facility in the conference at Barcroft Park is extremely special."
An outfielder and pitcher at GW in the mid-1980s, Ritchie played seven years in the Giants system and another with the Rangers before concluding his playing career in 1995. He began coaching in the White Sox system the following year.
Tom Sheridan, who was leading the program on an interim basis since August 10, will remain on Ritchie's staff as associate head coach. Dave Lorber, who spent last year on the staff at Stony Brook, was hired in September to fill the other full-time assistant role.
With Ritchie's hire, the coaching carousel appears finally to have stopped spinning in 2012. Yesterday, new Western Illinois head coach Ryan Brownlee filled out his coaching staff, hiring former Iowa assistant Dusty Napoleon and retaining WIU pitching coach/recruiting coordinator Shane Davis. The Leathernecks hired Brownlee (who had spent 15 years as an assistant at Iowa) on Sept. 28.
Towson's athletic department on Tuesday recommended a proposal to cut its baseball and men's soccer programs after this academic year, pending final approval by the university president in mid-November.
Athletic director Mike Waddell said the proposals to cut the two teams will save the athletic program about $800,000. He also said the cuts are aimed at complying with Title IX legislation, which calls for the athletic program representation to remain consistent with the school's 60-40 female-male student ratio. As part of the proposal, the school would re-establish a men's tennis team as well.
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, long-time Towson coach Mike Gottlieb expressed frustration with the university's lack of communication and lack of commitment to its student-athletes. The Sun reported Tuesday that the school had been considering the cuts since last fall, but Gottlieb said he was kept in the dark until this week. [...] Continue Reading »
Maryland-Eastern Shore made an intriguing head coaching hire Tuesday, tabbing Pedro Swann to replace Will Gardner, who is gone after going 61-260 in six seasons.
Swann played 17 years of pro ball from 1991-2007, including brief big league stints with the Braves, Blue Jays and Orioles between 2000 and 2003. Like Oregon's George Horton and Texas' Augie Garrido, Swann also has a neat connection to actor Kevin Costner. Swann played the role of Juan Vasquez in Costner's 1998 film "For Love of the Game."
Swann also has Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference experience, playing for Delaware State from 1989-'91. He graduated from Delaware State in 1995, and in 2001 he was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame. After retiring from playing in 2007, Swann founded and has been president of the Pro Swing Sports Academy in Middletown, Delaware. He served as a hitting instructor as well as head coach of three youth travel teams. He also spent four years as a high school hitting coach.
Swann inherits a UMES program that made progress in 2012, going 11-13 in the MEAC and finishing in third place in the conference tournament. The Hawks finished 14-39 overall—tied for their second-most wins in the last 17 years.
Mik Aoki has been down this road before. When he was the head coach at Boston College, Aoki led the Eagles through the transition from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and he handled it with aplomb. BC made it to regionals in 2009, its fourth season in the ACC.
Soon Aoki must guide another program from the Big East to the ACC, a conference populated largely by warm-weather baseball powers. The ACC officially welcomed Notre Dame to the conference Wednesday (for all sports except football). Aoki, now the head coach for the Fighting Irish, will shepherd his program into the ACC sometime in the next 27 months, though it's unclear if the Irish can negotiate an exit fee to expedite that process.
"Baseball is a really big deal to the ACC," Aoki said in a statement. "Our conference is exciting, the venues from Miami to Florida State to Clemson to Georgia Tech to N.C. State to Virginia. It is simply a who's who of college baseball. The game operation, fan base and facilities, I just think it's a really big move for our baseball program to compete in that conference. If you look at the ACC over the last 10 years or so, the ACC has either been No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 in conference RPI. This is a major upgrade for our program." [...] Continue Reading »
San Jose State passed over interim coach Mark O'Brien and hired longtime Pacific-12 Conference assistant Dave Nakama as its head coach Wednesday, replacing the retired Sam Piraro.
Athletic director Gene Bleymaier, in his first coaching hire after arriving from Boise State, chose Nakama, who most recently was an assistant for three seasons at Washington after working as an assistant at Stanford (1997-98, 2002-2009). Nakama has previous head-coaching experience at Division II San Francisco State (55-109 from 1999-2001) and Mission JC in San Jose (1992-96). His Mission teams made a pair of California state JC playoff trips, and he coached Gary Matthews Jr. there.
"San Jose State always has had a very good baseball reputation," Nakama said in a statement released by the school. "I'm excited to continue this tradition and return to the Bay Area—a great place to work and live." [...] Continue Reading »
Two years ago, the University of New Orleans athletic program left the Sun Belt Conference to pursue a move to Division III, and later decided to set its sights on D-II. In March, the school announced it would remain in Division I, and all that remained was to find a new conference, because UNO was unaffiliated since exiting the Sun Belt.
On Thursday, the Privateers and the Southland Conference announced that UNO will join the SLC, effective July 1, 2013. Earlier in the week, the Southland extended invitations to Abilene (Texas) Christian and Incarnate Word (Texas), which would need to reclassify as Division I institutions.
UNO baseball will play a full Southland schedule and be eligible for the conference tournament in its first season in 2014.
"This is an exciting day for the student-athletes, fans and the University," UNO baseball coach Bruce Peddie said. "Athletics at the Division I level will generate interest, garner local exposure and help increase admissions. I am very excited for the student-athletes and the fans that have supported all of our programs for years. I greatly appreciate the confidence that President (Peter) Fos and (athletics director) Derek Morel have shown us and look forward to bringing back the fans to the Lakefront."
The Privateers have a proud baseball tradition, which includes 14 trips to regionals and an appearance in the 1984 College World Series under coach Ron Maestri. New Orleans went to regionals as recently as 2007 and '08 under coach Tom Walter, now at Wake Forest. [...] Continue Reading »
The coaching carousel hasn't finished spinning yet.
Mike Villano, who has coached Western Illinois for the past three seasons, announced his resignation Wednesday. Assistant coaches Shane Davis and Cooper Stewart (who assisted in running the program in fall 2009 prior to Villano's arrival) will oversee the day-to-day operations until a head coach is named.
Villano is resigning to pursue an opportunity outside of coaching in business sales.
"I've been involved with baseball after college for 18 years, and everyone has to make decisions for different reasons," Villano said in a release. "I'm at a different chapter in my life to go experience a new challenge. I love Western, I love Macomb and I love these players . . . The foundation is here to win some championships and I for one will be their biggest fan."
Villano led the Leathernecks to the Summit League tournament in 2011 for the first time in three years; they went 21-38 overall that season and 13-15 in league play. WIU went 17-35-1 last year. [...] Continue Reading »
The Missouri Valley Conference announced Monday that Dallas Baptist will officially join the league as an affiliate member for baseball and will be eligible for the league's automatic bid starting in 2014. The league's invitation is for a six-year membership.
DBU had previously hoped to join the MVC and even played a Valley schedule this spring as a step toward gaining full membership. Then, last September, the Patriots accepted an invitation to join the revamped Western Athletic Conference. But when WAC expansion began to crumble, DBU looked at the MVC once again. The relationship is clearly beneficial for the Patriots and the Valley both.
As the MVC press release emphasized, DBU's addition gave the league a significant boost in the Ratings Percentage Index in 2012. The league finished the season as the No. 6-ranked conference and sent three teams to regionals (while DBU earned its third straight at-large bid as an independent). The Patriots went 41-19 overall and 14-7 against Valley teams, finishing 23rd in the final RPI rankings.
"There's no question that Dallas Baptist University is a premier power in Division I baseball," commisioner Doug Elgin said in the release. "Their addition to our conference as an affiliate member in baseball will strengthen our position in the national landscape, and we're excited to commit to one another for a lengthy term. The Missouri Valley Conference has a rich tradition in baseball, and the addition of Dallas Baptist will make us stronger." [...] Continue Reading »
As its search for a new head baseball coach approached its third month, George Washington finally made a decision Friday—to delay the search further.
The Colonials hired Tom Sheridan as associate head coach and announced that he will lead the program in an interim capacity into the fall, when the athletics department expects to announce a new full-time head coach.
Sheridan has spent the last 25 years as head coach at the Division III University of Mary Washington (Va.). He led the Eagles to 579 wins, 10 conference championships and 11 NCAA tournament appearances. Before that, he spent six seasons as an assistant at James Madison from 1982-87, helping lead the Dukes to the 1983 College World Series.
GW announced on May 19 that head coach Steve Mrowka would not be returning as head coach next year, ending his eight-year tenure. The Colonials reached the A-10 conference tournament just once in that period, in 2005.
The right candidate was under Middle Tennessee State's nose all along.
The Blue Raiders conducted a national search for their new head baseball coach after Steve Peterson retired on July 5, and today they announced that Peterson's long-time assistant, Jim McGuire, has been elevated to head coach.
MTSU did not handle the end of the search with an abundance of grace. After Liberty's Jim Toman withdrew his name from the mix last week, the Blue Raiders offered the job to Arkansas State coach Tommy Raffo earlier this week. Raffo turned it down, electing to stay put at Arkansas State, so MTSU went back to McGuire, who knows the program inside and out after 20 years on Peterson's staff.
"We had a thorough process that allowed us to talk with some of the most accomplished baseball coaches in the country," MTSU director of athletics Chris Massaro said in a release. "We were able to develop an outstanding pool of candidates that were interested in this job, which is a testimony to the work of Coach Peterson and Coach McGuire.
"From the beginning, I knew the great qualities of Coach McGuire, and he was able to demonstrate them further during the interview process. I am confident he will lead us to national prominence and a trip to Omaha." [...] Continue Reading »
Harvard coach Joe Walsh died Tuesday morning at the age of 58. Walsh coached the Crimson for 17 seasons, posting a 347-388-2 record, and had a 569-564-3 record overall including 15 seasons at Division III Suffolk (Mass.), his alma mater.
Walsh also was the pitching coach for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League from 1991-98, where he mentored the likes of Ben Sheets and Barry Zito, both on the '98 club. Former Walsh players such as Peter Woodfork (senior vice president, baseball operations, Major League Baseball), David Forst (assistant general manager, Athletics) and Ben Crockett (farm director, Red Sox) have gone on to front-office positions in professional baseball as well.
Walsh's Crimson teams won five Ivy League championships and made regional trips from 1997-1999 as well as 2002 and 2005.
In a press release, athletic director Bob Scalise said, "This is a tragic day for everyone associated with Harvard athletics, Massachusetts baseball and the larger baseball community. Joe's passion for the game redefined success in the Ivy League and he positively impacted the lives of so many people. To say that he will be missed would be an understatement."
Harvard had not yet named a replacement.
Mark Hogan, the winningest coach in Southeast Missouri State history, is retiring after 18 seasons. Pitching coach and ex-big leaguer Steve Bieser will serve as interim coach for the 2013 season, and a national search will be conducted at the end of the season. Bieser, an alumnus of the school whose son Cole is a rising senior at SEMO, will be a candidate for the permanent job at that time.
Hogan compiled a 526-456-1 record at SEMO, winning the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title in 2002 and winning the conference tournament in 1998 and '02—the only two trips to regionals in program history. The Redhawks reached the OVC tournament title game seven times and made the tourney in each of Hogan's 18 seasons.
"Coach Hogan has been an extremely successful baseball coach for Southeast Missouri State University for the past 18 years," school president Kenneth W. Dobbins said in a release. "We sincerely appreciate his tenure, the legacy he provided for our baseball program, and most importantly, we thank him for his dedication to the success of our student-athletes. Many young men had great collegiate baseball experiences due to Coach Hogan's expertise, and several have gone on to professional careers. We certainly congratulate him for an outstanding career and wish him the best in his retirement." [...] Continue Reading »
William & Mary hired Jamie Pinzino as its new head coach Monday. Pinzino spent 2012 as the Tribe's pitching coach under Frank Leoni, who resigned after the season.
Pinzino is a proven winner who successfully shepherded Bryant from Division II to D-I during his five seasons as head coach. In Bryan't second season at the D-I level in 2010, Pinzino earned Northeast Conference coach of the year honors after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-7 record in conference play, taking home the NEC regular-season title (they were not yet eligible for the conference tournament).
But he was forced to resign under bizarre circumstances after the season. Following a postseason banquet, Pinzino and assistant Andy Koocher were arrested for fighting with each other on the field in an alcohol-fueled incident. [...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America has learned that Maryland has hired Kansas State associate head coach John Szefc as its new head coach, filling the last remaining vacant head coaching job at a power-conference school this summer. An official announcement could come by Thursday.
During his 22-year coaching career, Szefc has proven himself as a top hitting coach and recruiter, and had success as a head coach. He spent seven years as the head coach at Marist from 1996-2002, leading the Red Foxes to three regionals. From 2003-08 he served as Louisiana-Lafayette's top assistant, running the Cajuns' aggressive offense and leading their recruiting efforts. He spent 2009 and '10 on the coaching staff at Kansas, then joined Brad Hill's staff at Kansas State before the 2011 season.
A native of Middletown, N.Y., Szefc now heads back to the East Coast, where he'll be much closer to his family. He takes over for Erik Bakich, who left Maryland after three seasons to assume the head job at Michigan.
The Terrapins made strides under Bakich, winning 32 games in 2012 (their most since 2002) and finishing 32nd in the RPI. Though Maryland missed the ACC tournament, it broke into Baseball America's Top 25 early in the season for the first time ever, and made a serious run at its first regional since 1971.
With a cash-strapped athletic department, Maryland isn't an easy place to win, as its facilities and operating budget lag way behind the ACC's powers. But Bakich recruited well and left a solid foundation in place for Szefc to work with. And Szefc has proven he knows how to win, even with modest resources.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog