Pitt baseball coach Mike Bell maintained an important element of stability on his staff Wednesday when he announced that assistant/pitching coach Jerry Oakes will retained.
“He is known as a tireless recruiter and cutting edge pitching coach and will be a great asset to our staff and our commitment to excellence,” Bell said in a statement.
In his six seasons with the Panthers, Oakes has mentored 16 pitchers selected in the MLB Draft, including nine in the top 20 rounds.
“I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with coach Bell and continue to be a part of this program,” Oakes said. “I believe we can be a competitive and successful organization and coach Bell’s pedigree and leadership can help accomplish those goals. I am looking forward to the future with this program.”
Pitt pitchers recorded a 4.38 ERA this season under Oakes and former head coach Joe Jordano, who left the program at the end of the season. It was the second-best ERA in the past four seasons. Four Pitt pitchers were selected in the draft, the most in Oakes’ tenure at Pitt. R.J. Freure led the way in the sixth round (Houston), followed by Matt Pidich (Cincinnati), Derek West (Atlanta) and Yasin Chentouf (Detroit).
Three others were drafted in 2017 — Josh Falk (Oakland), Isaac Mattson (L.A. Angels) and Josh Mitchell (Kansas City). In 2016, pitcher T.J. Zeuch became the highest drafted player in Pitt history, going No. 21 overall in the first round to Toronto.
Oakes guided the pitching staff to a second consecutive season with a sub-4.00 ERA (3.97) in 2013, the second-lowest at Pitt since at least 1993. Luke Curtis, Joseph Harvey and Matt Wotherspoon were drafted, the most Pitt pitchers chosen in one season in program history.
Oakes’ first Pitt pitching staff posted the lowest ERA (3.59) at Pitt since 1981, helping the Panthers to a school-record 42 victories.
Oakes, himself, was a seventh-round pick by Milwaukee in the 2000 MLB Draft, and played eight years in the Twins, Braves, Rangers and Giants organizations.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.