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FSU rounds out Baseball staff with Pitching Coach

2019 Florida State Baseball Season Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida State Baseball has completed their paid assistant coaching staff, hiring a pitching coach. According to Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball, Mike Martin Jr. has hired University of Kentucky pitching coach Jim Belanger.

Belanger is highly regarded, having sent nearly two dozen pitchers to the professional ranks. Belanger had first round pick Zack Thompson drafted 19th overall by the Cardinals organization in 2019. His sterling resume includes two pitchers in the top ten rounds in each of the 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2015 drafts. Three Wildcat pitchers were drafted in 2019, six in 2018 and another four in 2017. Most of these pitchers were undrafted out of high school.

Belanger has also had success as a previous coach at multiple stops. Before Kentucky, he was the pitching coach for the University of Maryland and Monmouth University. Belanger’s staffs have led the Big Ten in strikeouts, and consistently rank among the most effective pitching staffs in college baseball.

Below is his biography from Kentucky baseball:

Jim Belanger, who has developed record-setting pitchers and 20 major-league draft picks over the last six seasons, enters his third season guiding the Kentucky pitching staff. Under his direction, the UK staff had a tremendous 2017 season, his first with the program. The Cats set single-season school records for most strikeouts, most innings pitched and lowest batting average against. Two pitchers earned All-America honors, one was a Freshman All-American, two were first-team All-SEC, including the program’s first SEC Pitcher of the Year, and four were drafted in the first 11 rounds of the MLB Draft. In 2018, Belanger deftly negotiated a series of unexpected issues that included nine missed weekend starts and a cavalry of first-year pitchers making their first trip through the elite lineups of the SEC. Still, six pitchers were drafted in large part due to Belanger’s guidance, including second-round pick Sean Hjelle. The six MLB selections combined to receive $2.29 million in signing bonuses. Belanger took a staff that lost all 30 conference starts from 2016 and reconstructed it into one of the league’s best. Sean Hjelle transitioned from closer to Friday night starter, winning SEC Pitcher of the Year while 7-1 with a 1.90 earned run average in conference games. His 11 total wins were the fourth-most in school history and he became just the 11th pitcher in school history to record more than 100 strikeouts in a season. Closer Logan Salow found a mentor in Belanger, who slotted him into the role of rally extinguisher, which suited the senior left-hander perfectly. Salow tied a single-season school record with 12 saves and graduated second on the program’s all-time saves list with 16. He struck out 73 in 55.1 innings, posted a 1.95 ERA and allowed opposing hitters to bat just .188 of him in 31 appearances. It was exactly the type of difference head coach Nick Mingione hoped Belanger would make when he lured him away from Maryland. “I wanted Coach Belanger at Kentucky for numerous reasons,” Mingione said. “What stood out to me was how much family means to him, the fact he’s won everywhere he’s been and his track record of player development. “He did a great job at Maryland, going to two super regionals the past three years, and he truly understands what it takes to win at a very high level. His player development has been second to none. What he’s been able to do with players who went undrafted out of high school and how he’s turned them into legitimate prospects and top draft picks is impressive. He is an outstanding communicator, with the perfect demeanor for a pitching coach. Belanger developed one of the nation’s best starting rotations in 2016, with Mike Shawaryn, Taylor Bloom and Brian Shaffer combining for 20 wins, 11 complete games and 232 strikeouts with only 48 walks. The starting trio led a Terrapin staff that finished ninth in the country in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (2.59) and 17th in WHIP ratio (1.22). Despite being only a junior, Shawaryn set the Maryland career records for wins (30), innings pitched (307.1) and strikeouts (307). He was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fifth round of the major-league draft earlier this month, extending Belanger’s string of five straight years with a pitcher taken in the sixth round or higher. In 2015, Shawaryn had the best season by a pitcher in Maryland history. He went 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA and was named first-team All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Perfect Game and Louisville Slugger. He set single-season school records for victories and strikeouts (138), leading the Big Ten in both categories. Nationally, he finished second in the country in wins, fifth in strikeouts and 17th in ERA. He went on to pitch for the 2015 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Led by Shawaryn, Belanger’s staff had a great year in strikeouts in the 2015 campaign. Maryland led the Big Ten with a school-record 549 whiffs and ranked 15th nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (8.5). UM had a team ERA of 3.32, helping lead the Terrapins to a school-record 42 wins and second-straight NCAA Regional championship. In addition to grooming accomplished starters, Belanger also had remarkable relievers in the ’15 season. Kevin Mooney became the best closer in school history with a UM career-record 33 saves. Redshirt freshman Ryan Selmer tied a school record for appearances with 31 en route to a 2.18 ERA. Eight of Maryland’s nine returning pitchers lowered their ERAs from the 2014 season. In 2014, Belanger guided a staff that ranked 12th nationally in strikeouts per game (8.1) and totaled a then-school record 500 strikeouts to help lead Maryland to its first 40-win season in school history and an NCAA Regional championship. The UM staff was led by Jake Stinnett, whose 132 strikeouts led the Atlantic Coast Conference and landed fifth nationally. He received All-ACC and All-Region honors. In 2013, his first season at Maryland, Belanger’s pitching staff had two of the top-15 pitchers in the ACC in Stinnett and Jimmy Reed. Stinnett had a 2.83 ERA and held opponents to a .204 batting average. Reed posted a 2.33 ERA and was a sixth-round draft selection by St. Louis. Mooney emerged as the team’s closer and his nine saves were most ever by a Terp freshman. Belanger went to Maryland after three seasons at Monmouth University. He helped develop Pat Light, who made his major-league debut with the Boston Red Sox this season. Light was the 2012 New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association Pitcher of the Year and was a first-round pick by the Red Sox. In 2011, Belanger’s pitchers led the Hawks to 36 regular-season wins and the Northeast Conference regular-season title. Monmouth’s 3.34 ERA led the NEC and ranked 37th nationally. Nick Meyers was the 2011 NEC Pitcher of the Year. Andrew McGee was the NEC Relief Pitcher of the Year and picked Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America. A native of North Babylon, N.Y., Belanger pitched two years at Cecil Community College in North East, Md. He compiled a 17-4 record and 2.90 ERA. Belanger went on to the University of Louisville, where he pitched in 2007-08 and helped the Cardinals advance to the 2007 College World Series. Belanger’s wife, Tiffany, is originally from Louisville. They have one son, Sutton.

Tomahawk Nation will be breaking down this hire in detail.