The transition from the summer offseason to the fall practice season isn’t complete without a rundown of new faces. Yes, the Big Ten is welcoming another talented freshman class, headlined by several players saying no to professional organizations, but they will also be new faces in the in the coaches’ boxes and in the dugout as part of the coaching staff.
With an entirely new staff in Bloomington as head coach Jeff Mercer leads the Hoosiers, to two new assistants up the road in West Lafayette under Mark Wasikowski, rounded out by promotions in Columbus and Minneapolis, heres a look at the new full-time assistants coaches in the Big Ten.
Mercer credits Held with being responsible for his first coaching job. Now, Mercer is bringing Held into the program he is in charge of. Serving as Indiana’s recruiting coordinator Held joins the Hoosiers after serving as Executive Director of the Indiana Bulls Baseball Organization, an Indianapolis-based travel baseball organization he has been a part of since November 2006. Mercer joined the Bulls in his native Indiana, in 2009, following his playing career at Wright State.
Prior to his time with the Bulls, Held served as a bullpen assistant for the St. Louis Cardinals, from 2003-2007, which followed a season in 2002 where he coached the in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, as a hitting coach with Batavia (Short-Season A). It was the Phillies who drafted Held in the 42nd round of the 1993 draft, commencing a nine-year professional career, which also saw time in the New York Mets system.
“I’ve known Dan for over 10 years,” said head coach Jeff Mercer. “He hired me for my first coaching job with the Indiana Bulls directly after college. Working with him over the years it became obvious he’d make a terrific recruiting coordinator. His experiences in professional baseball as a player and coach will translate well to our player development processes. His many relationships with high school and summer coaches will make for a smooth transition into leading our recruiting efforts.”
Like Mercer, Parker, the Hoosiers’ pitching coach, is an Indiana native, a product of Fort Wayne. The similarities don’t stop there, as the two have a history of working alongside each other to accomplish one goal.
Parker played next to Mercer at Wright State, earning all-conference and all-region honors in 2007 and 2008, before being a sixth-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks. After three seasons in professional baseball, Parker returned to his alma mater in 2011, coaching alongside current Penn State head coach Rob Cooper, serving on the same staff as Mercer from 2013-2016. Parker’s time on the Wright State staff concluded in the summer of 2016, when he followed former Raider head coach Greg Lovelady to Central Florida, which created the head coach vacancy that Mercer filled.
At Central Florida, Parker helped the Knights to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, powered by a pitching staffed that ranked 10th in the country in WHIP, 24th in strikeouts-to-walk ratio and 28th in strikeouts per nine innings. In 2018, the Knights pitched to the tune of a 3.32 ERA and finished with the second-most strikeouts in a single season in program history, 556, while setting a school record for fewest hits allowed per nine innings at 7.1. Five Central Florida pitchers were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft, the second-highest tally ever for the American Athletic Conference program.
“Justin and I played together in college, then were assistants together for several years, it’s been very gratifying to see him become one of the best pitching coaches in the country,” said head coach Jeff Mercer. “Indiana University baseball is better in every way with Justin joining the organization. He is an incredible asset to our entire program, not just our pitching staff.”
After John Fornasiere retired following 33 years as a coach at Minnesota, Anderson didn’t have to go far or think long on whom would round out Minnesota’s full-time staff. The success Minnesota pitchers have had under Ty McDevitt’s tutelage as volunteer assistant, made his elevation all but certain from the start.
Helping the Gophers to an 80-36 record over the last two years, Minnesota has pitched to a 3.68 ERA, with McDevitt leading them from his volunteer post. The ERA dropped to 3.23 in 2018, good for 10th in the country and second in the nation, en route to Minnesota’s sweep of the Big Ten conference and tournament championships. In a season where the Gophers appeared in the program’s first super regional, McDevitt and Minnesota saw freshman right-handed pitcher Patrick Fredrickson named the Big Ten Freshman and Pitcher of the Year. Classmate Max Meyer joined Fredrickson as a All-Big Ten first-team selection, before joining the USA Baseball Collegiate National team.
In two seasons, McDevitt has produced two closers who hold the school’s single-season saves record, 16, set in 2017 by Brian Glowicki before Meyer tied it this year. Minnesota has had two pitchers drafted in each of the last two years.
“I am grateful and excited that Ty McDevitt, an alumni of our program, has agreed to join our coaching staff as the pitching coach and begin this important process of re-centering our coaching staff for the future,” said Anderson. “Over the last seven years, I have been able to observe the outstanding work of Ty as a student- athlete and volunteer coach, and the results have been impressive.”
Like Anderson, Ohio State head coach Greg Beals already had the person to fill a full-time vacancy on his staff this summer. For four season, Angle served as the volunteer video coordinator for the Buckeyes, following a nine-year professional career. Now Angle will help lead the Ohio State hitters and outfielders.
A seventh-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, the former Ohio State captain reached the big leagues as an Oriole in 2011, then spent time in the Dodgers, Marlins and Athletics farm systems to cap his playing days. As a Buckeye, Angle used speed and prolific batting to helped his alma to regionals in 2005 and 2007 as the Ohio State’s leadoff batter, as well as be named an All-Big Ten outfielder in 2006 and 2007. A career .351 batter as a Buckeye, the Columbus native ranks third in Ohio State history, accumulating 60 stolen bases in three seasons.
“I am really excited for Matt to join our coaching staff,” Beals said. “His passion for this university, knowledge for the game and ability to communicate and relate to the players will be a great asset. Matt’s skills compliment me and this coaching staff.”
Since Angle joined the OSU staff in his video coordinator role, Ohio State has appeared in two NCAA Tournaments, 2016 and 2018. Angle steps into the full-time position previously held by Chris Holick, who is now General Manager of the Indiana Bulls.
Wasikowski saw pitching coach Steve Holm take over the Illinois State program, as the Redbirds hope Holm can fashion a program turnaround in the vein of how he helped Wasikowski accomplish the Boilermaker rebirth in West Lafayette. Now, Wasikowski is hoping he can tap into the same pipeline that made Holm successful in tabbing his replacement.
Where Holm came to Purdue from Sacramento State, it’s another Western Athletic Conference program, Seattle, where Purdue’s new pitching coach hails from, Elliot Cribby. For Seattle, Cribby served as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, for a program he first coached at in 2014. In 2016, Cribby helped Seattle to a school-record 37 wins, and oversaw the development of the WAC Pitcher of the Year, Nick Meservey. The 2016 season was the last of three consecutive where Seattle led the WAC in strikeouts.
Voted the best recruiter in the WAC by his fellow coaches in a D1Baseball.com poll, Cribby previously coached at Abilene Christian (2013) and Mount Si High School (2011-12). Cribby pitched at the University of Washington, appearing in 20 games on the mound in each season from 2006-08.
“We are so excited to have Elliott and his wife Shannon joining the Boilermaker Family,” Mark Wasikowski says. “Elliott is one of the most respected pitching coaches in the country and our student-athletes will benefit greatly from his expertise. Coach Cribby is known as one of the nation’s top recruiters and has been in high demand for several years from top-25 programs. We are fortunate to have the Cribby Family joining us here at Purdue.”
A coaching career that has seen Fouts coach at all points across the western United States has led the Hoosier State native home. Following a second stint at Pepperdine, the Kokomo, Ind. native was chosen by Waiskowski to fill the void created when former Purdue assistant Wally Crancer followed Holm to Illinois State.
After a three-year playing career at the College of Southern Native, Fouts began coaching in 2006 as an assistant at Lubbock Christian. A return to CSN saw Fouts serve as an assistant for the Coyotes from 2007-2010, which preceded his first stop in Malibu as a Pepperdine assistant in 2011. The Waves won the West Coast Conference in 2012, Fouts last year before moving on to Utah Valley. But a return to Pepperdine, Wasikowski’s alma mater, occurred in 2016, where Fouts remained until this June. The final season of Fouts’ second tenure ended in the same fashion as his first: with the Waves in the NCAA Tournament.
“Cooper has established himself as one of the hardest working assistants in college baseball,” Wasikowski says. “His energy, work ethic and positive attitude are all trademarks of what Cooper brings to the table. In addition to assisting in the development of multiple MLB draft picks, he has also constructed NCAA Regional teams at his previous stops.”
Under Wasikowski, Fouts will be responsible for coaching and developing Purdue catchers.