East Texas Pump Jacks Land An Eagle For Pitching Coach

David Therneau
David Therneau

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

An Artichoke now has an Eagle to help guide the Pump Jacks.

The East Texas Pump Jacks announced today that David Therneau will serve as the team’s pitching coach for the 2009 season. Therneau, currently the pitching coach at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Fla., joins head coach Ben Taylor to comprise the Jacks’ coaching staff.

Taylor, himself the associate head coach at Scottsdale Community College during the spring, didn’t waste any time in pointing out Therneau’s importance to the club.

“If it’s true that you are only as good as your pitching staff, then we have the right man to lead our arms,” said the bench boss.

“Coach Therneau brings an outstanding and well-rounded baseball resume to our coaching staff,” continued Taylor. “His experience as a top collegiate player, as well as a highly regarded prospect in professional baseball, let alone his impeccable reputation as a pitching coach, will provide our pitchers with a phenomenal resource this summer.”

Therneau is in his second season as the pitching coach for Embry-Riddle, which is ranked #11 in the country in NAIA polls. The Eagles are 33-12 overall and 17-4 in conference play, leaving them atop the Sun Conference.

More importantly for Therneau, his pitchers are among of the best in the country. Embry-Riddle’s staff tops the conference in ERA (3.88) and strikeouts (323), and it’s second in the league in opponent’s batting average (.264). The staff also ranks among the nation’s top-15 in strikeouts and barely missed the top-20 in ERA.

And if Embry-Riddle sounds vaguely familiar to East Texas fans, it’s because Kilgore native and inaugural season Pump Jack Pat McCrory transferred there for his senior year.

In 2008, Therneau had a dramatic impact in his first season as the school’s pitching coach. The Eagles staff ERA of 3.56 was third in the conference and tenth in the nation, and its 399 strikeouts led the league and placed in the top-20 nationally. This pitching strength helped Embry-Riddle to an 18-3 conference record and a Sun Conference title, followed by a fifth-place finish at the NAIA World Series.

Therneau is hopeful for a similar effect in East Texas, where looks to impart the wisdom gained through his playing career. “I know how important summer ball is in the development of young players, because I know what it did for me in my career, helping prepare me for professional ball,” he said.

But Therneau also knows that the key to a productive summer can be players just enjoying themselves.

“Some of my best friends today were summer teammates of mine,” he added. “Summer baseball is one of the best times these guys will have over the course of their careers, so I hope they enjoy it.”

Pump Jacks pitchers stand enjoy learning from Therneau, who was poised to pitch in the major leagues before an arm injury derailed his playing career. He was drafted three different times, finally signing with the Cincinnati Reds in 1998 after they selected him in the ninth round. He began paying dividends immediately, earning all-league honors while playing for the Billings Mustangs, and leading the rookie-level Pioneer League in strikeouts before a late-season promotion.

The next season saw Therneau become a nationally-recognized prospect. He opened the season with the Rockford Reds, where he was named the starting pitcher for the Class-A Midwest League’s All-Star Game. He was the first pitcher in the country to reach eight wins in 1999, helping the Reds win the first-half division title.

After compiling a 12-3 record in Rockford, Therneau earned a promotion to the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. He proved just as effective there, going 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts to earn yet another promotion – to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. Just 23 years old and one level below the majors, Therneau finished the season with the Indians, boasting a composite 14-5 record for the campaign.

Unfortunately, he experienced a pitcher’s worst nightmare before the next season ever started. An elbow injury required Tommy John surgery, and the grueling rehab that followed effectively scuttled the 2000 and 2001 seasons for Therneau.

He spent the 2002 season with the Stockton Ports of the Class-A California League, where he had closed out the previous year. Therneau served as a starter and a closer for the Ports, earning himself a return trip to Chattanooga the following season. But early in the 2003 season, the Reds let him go.

Therneau caught on in independent baseball, pitching the Schaumberg Flyers into the Northern League playoffs in 2003 and winning a Northeast League title with the New Jersey Jackals in 2004.

He got his first taste of coaching in 2004, when he was a player-coach with the independent San Angelo Colts. While pitching his way into the league’s top ten in ERA, he also helped guide the staff. He went on to serve as head coach in the Strike Zone Upper Deck Collegiate League in 2006 and 2007 before joining the Embry-Riddle staff.

Therneau’s playing career kicked off as an all-state pitcher at Denton High School, when he was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 28th round of the 1994 draft. He spurned the Brewers and headed to Navarro Junior College, where he was an All-American and a two-time all-conference selection. The Florida Marlins drafted Therneau in the 27th round in 1995, but he again elected to stay in school.

The 6’5” righthander moved on to Texas Tech, going undefeated in a rotation that propelled the Red Raiders to a Big 12 championship. The next year, he anchored the staff at Bellevue University, earning all-conference and all-region honors, and he was named an honorable mention All-American. The Bruins captured conference and regional titles, then finished third in the NAIA World Series, where Therneau was an all-tournament selection. After the season, he was drafted by the Reds and began his professional career.

Free Season Tickets: That’s right, free! With players this season coming to East Texas from across the country, the team is actively searching for host families. Host families enjoy the opportunity to have a potential future major leaguer live with them, forging a bond that lasts a lifetime. As an added bonus, host families receive FREE season tickets for everyone in their household. Click here or contact the Pump Jacks for more information.

The 2009 season is scheduled to begin on Friday, June 5, when the Pump Jacks host the league’s newest team, the Victoria Generals. The 48-game regular season will run through August 8, to be followed by the playoffs and TCL Championship Series. Fans can download a copy of the team’s schedule by clicking here.

Season tickets are currently on sale, with ticket packages starting as low as $105 – and $85 for children and seniors – for all 24 regular season home games. Box seat season tickets are also available, including Lower Box seats, which feature in-your-seat wait service all game long, every game. For more information on Pump Jacks season tickets, click here or contact the Jacks office at (903) 218-GO ET.