The College Baseball Blog continues our series of interviews with coaches around the nation with Post University Associate Head Coach Ray Ricker. He spent the summer of 2010 with the New Bedford Bay Sox of the NECBL where he served as the manager of the team leading them to a 18-24 record missing out on the NECBL playoffs. He took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about Division 2, NECBL, and other issues facing the college game.
1. Ray, This was your first season as the manager of the New Bedford Bay Sox. What was your overall impression of the caliber of play in the NECBL and what have you learned most about yourself?
I was an assistant for the Bay Sox during the 2009 summer and was promoted to Manager for the summer of 2010. It was a great experience as Manager this season, a much different one then being the assistant. I learned a lot about myself as a Manager there are always things you wish you did or did not do but overall I was very happy with my first season as Manager, we had a couple of key injuries and a couple of guys that did not end up coming but that is summer ball. The guys played hard day in and day out for me and that’s all I could ask for. The caliber of players in the league is phenomenal, there is always a special player on the field for any team, there is never a cup cake game in the league.
2. In your opinion, Who was the best prospect with the Bay Sox? In the NECBL?
Working with the guys on the Bay Sox every day made me appreciate how hard each of my guys worked in the summer. As far as next level prospects we had a good amount from Matt Chavez (U. San Francisco) who was drafted as a pitcher in the 44th round this year by the White Sox who lead the league in batting average. Elliot Byers (Stanford) was one of our closers that were unhittable at times with a 95-96 mph fastball and a very good slider he should be a high drafted guy. We had 7 players ranked in the Perfect Games top 40 list. As far as top players in the league it was 1A and 1B with Kenny Diekroger and Mark Appel both of Stanford were the top players in my eyes this summer, we saw them a ton this summer since both of them played for our division rivals Newport Gulls.
3. You are now the Associate head coach at Post University after three season with the Eagles program. How has your coaching philosophy changed since you started coaching?
Going into my fourth year at Post University we have changed from a rebuilding team to a team who is expected to compete for a league title every year. We have high expectations for the 2011 team after losing in the conference championship game last year. My philosophy has not changed much since I have started it is to be a hard working blue collar team we work hard every day of practice whether it is in the classroom or on the baseball field we want to be the best at whatever we do in this program. We want to compete in everything we do and that starts by challenging each player from the time they step on campus to the time they walk across the podium getting their degree.
4. The New England Region for Division 2 plays with wood bats during the regular season. Which side of the debate are you on with wood bats?
When I first came to Post University it was the first year the CACC switched to all wood bats. Since that time we have finished first in the CACC in hitting 2 out of 3 years and in 2009 we lead the nation in triples per game and have shattered every record in school history. I enjoy our league and our region being all wood I think more leagues should go wood, I think it would lead to shorter games and the cost of the wood bats are not as high as everyone think it would be to fund a program. It’s a true game for the pitchers and hitters and it is easier for the scouts I think to project our guys at the next level.
5. Division 1 has had a uniform start date for three seasons now. Do you think a similar thing is needed at the Division 2 level?
I do not think we need a uniform start date for Division 2. We start our season this year in Myrtle Beach in the last week of February. Now that the NCAA given us less games in our regular season it makes getting in games fairly easy. Northeast schools have to get creative when it comes to our indoor practice and when we can get on a field but we take advantage of every nice day to get on a field and teams in our region have been very successful on national level.
6. Who has been your biggest influence on your coaching philosophy or career?
I have had many great people influence myself in baseball. My parents have helped me tremendously throughout my career as a player and coach giving me a great support system. I feel very fortunate to be working at great institution such as Post University and working for the Head Coach AJ McNamara who has been a great mentor to me for the past four years. I have had great coaches who I have taken things over the years such as Brian Rose (Boston Red Sox) the past two summers, Kirk Fredriksson (Bay Sox G.M.) who has a great baseball mind and Pat Hall (Central Connecticut State University) who had coached me while I was in college and has been a great influence in my career. I feel very blessed to be around great baseball people and will continue to learn something from great baseball minds everyday.
The College Baseball Blog would like to thank Ray for taking some time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with us. If any other schools or coaches are interested in being featured in a future interview feel free to contact me by clicking here.