Melendez named one of natiion’s hottest young coaches

Alabama State baseball coach Mervyl Melendez was selected as one of the top 10 baseball coaches in the country under 40 years old by Baseball America.

In his first season with the Hornets, Melendez led Alabama State to 20 victories, its highest win total since 2002 and the most victories in one season against Division I opponents in the program’s history. The Hornets’ 14-10 Southwestern Athletic Conference record was also the highest conference win total ASU since 2002, as Alabama State tied for second in the Eastern Division.

The Hornets open the 2013 baseball season at home with a three-game series against Chicago State beginning February 15 at the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex.

Here’s the complete story:

The Top 10 College Head Coaches Under 40

By Aaron Fitt

January 3, 2013

Back in November, we asked coaches and scouts to weigh in on a simple question: Who are the best current head coaches under 40? Most coaches in this category currently lead mid-major programs, but they constitute the next wave of marquee coaches in college baseball, along with the top assistants we also identified. As the American Baseball Coaches Association convention gets underway in Chicago, we present our list below.

1. Josh Holliday, Oklahoma State (Age: 36)

The Skinny: With experience as a recruiting coordinator at three top national programs (Georgia Tech, Arizona State and Vanderbilt), Holliday is firmly established as one of the nation’s premier recruiters.

What They’re Saying: “He’s been around a lot of good people. Obviously his family, for one—his brother (Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday) and dad (N.C. State associate head coach Tom Holliday), all that experience and information. And then certainly at ASU, the success he had there. And I think the years he was with Corbin (at Vandy) were invaluable. I think whenever you’re with a guy like Corbin, you’re only going to get better every day, in every phase.”

—UCLA coach John Savage

2. Casey Dunn, Samford (Age: 36)

The Skinny: Dunn, a former catcher at Auburn and in the Royals system, was just 27 when he took over as Samford’s head coach in 2004, and he has gradually built the Bulldogs into a Southern Conference power, culminating in their first-ever trip to regionals in 2012.

What They’re Saying: “Casey Dunn is special; he’s really good. His dad was a (high school) coaching legend, he played really well at Auburn, played pro ball. He knows how to get it out of them. He’s tough, but tough in the right way.”

—An NL crosschecker

3. Erik Bakich, Michigan (Age: 35)

The Skinny: The uncommonly personable Bakich helped build Vanderbilt into a national power through his tireless recruiting efforts, then helped Maryland’s program take a step forward during his three-year stint as head coach before leaving for Michigan this summer.

What They’re Saying: “He’s a younger guy, and the way he gets after it, the work ethic, the game management—I was impressed by that, even at Maryland in a tough situation with the ACC. And I was impressed with the communication skills. I think he relates well to people.”

—An AL crosschecker

4. Andrew Checketts, UC Santa Barbara (Age: 37)

The Skinny: An Oregon State product, Checketts made a name for himself by turning hidden gems into quality pitching prospects as an assistant at UC Riverside and Oregon, then made a splash with his first recruiting class as UCSB’s head coach this fall, ranking No. 12 in the nation.

What They’re Saying: “I think Andrew is an extremely diligent worker, he’s very bright, and he’s willing to look at what he’s doing on a yearly basis and make sure he’s doing the right things. He’s willing to learn and make adjustments. There are certain places that if you win and develop guys consistently, it’s beyond the fact that you can recruit, and he’s certainly proved that he can do it.”

—Kentucky coach Gary Henderson

5. Dan Heefner, Dallas Baptist (Age: 35)

The Skinny: Heefner made an immediate impact on the DBU offense upon joining the staff in 2004, and he has elevated the program to new heights since taking over as head coach in 2007, including its first three trips to regionals and a 2011 appearance in super regionals.

What They’re Saying: “He’s as good a hitting instructor as there is out there. He has passion, and he’s such a level-headed, good person, he’s such a natural fit for that institution. He’s definitely a rising star, there’s no doubt about it. He’s well balanced, too. There’s no knee-jerk reactions with Dan. He’s going to deal with whatever situations come up, he’s going to give himself time, he’s going to think through it, he’s going to be incredibly fair to players. He’s got this coaching stuff figured out as a young coach.”

—Creighton coach Ed Servais

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