ABILENE – ACU head baseball coach Britt Bonneau announced Monday that he has added two new faces to his coaching staff as the club begins preparations next week for the 2018 season.
Cal State-Fullerton Director of Operations Cory Vanderhook has been hired as the Wildcats’ new pitching coach, and Robbie Rea has been hired away from Northeastern State (Okla.) University as ACU’s volunteer assistant coach.
Vanderhook will take over an ACU pitching staff that posted a 7.05 ERA in 2017, but also figures to see heavy turnover with as many as 10 new faces on the pitching staff in 2018.
“We are excited to welcome Cory and his family to Abilene,” ACU head coach Britt Bonneau said. “Over the past several months we have worked to identify someone who has both played and coached at a winning program, and who has been mentored by the best in college baseball. Cory fills all these needs.
“One of the many bonuses in hiring Cory is that he has a working knowledge of West Coast talent,” Bonneau said. “Cory will be able to help us in the area of networking as we move forward and as he assists (associate head coach) Greg Evans in our recruiting process. Cal State Fullerton has always had one of the top pitching programs in the country and Cory has been an integral part of that process as a catcher when he played and as an assistant coach.”
Vanderhook has been the Director of Operations for the Titans since July 2014, helping the Titans to a pair of appearances in the College World Series (2015 and 2017). Prior to that, he spent spent two seasons (2013 and 2014) as an undergraduate assistant coach for Fullerton.
Cal State-Fullerton is one of the elite programs in college baseball history with 18 trips to the College World Series with four national championships to its credit, the last coming in 2004. Vanderhook’s uncle, Rick Vanderhook, has been the Titans’ head coach since 2012 after serving as an assistant from 1985-2007 at Fullerton and 2009-11 at UCLA.
From September 2009-June 2012 Cory Vanderhook was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Golden West College, one of the top junior college programs in California.
As a player, Vanderhook played two seasons at Golden West before joining the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2005. He then transferred to Cal State-Fullerton where he played his final collegiate season in 2006.
A catcher in college, Vanderhook was drafted by Seattle in the 25th round of the 2002 draft after his senior year of high school (Edison HS in Huntington Beach, Calif.), and in the 42nd round of the 2003 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He later signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs and played in their organization for two seasons before playing in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization.
“I’ve talked to several people I trust and they all believe that ACU is a ‘sleeping giant’ among Texas baseball programs,” Vanderhook said. “I know Coach Evans has spent the better part of the last year on the road recruiting and I like what I see on paper. With the 2018 season being our first season fully eligible for tournament play, I want to be part of something special and help build it from the ground up.”
Vanderhook – who is married and has two children – graduated from Cal State-Fullerton in May 2014 with a bachelor of arts in communication studies.
Rea, meanwhile, will serve as the program’s volunteer coach and will coach first base and work with the team’s outfielders. He spent two seasons as the assistant coach at Northeastern State, an old Lone Star Conference foe of the Wildcats and now a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA).
While at Northeastern State, Rea was the hitting coach and worked with the team’s infielders. Prior to his tenure at NSU, Rea spent the 2015 season as an assistant coach at Cowley County Community College. CCCC posted a 54-5 record and was ranked No. 1 in the nation most of the year. The Tigers won both the sub-regional and conference championships, while finishing runners-up in the region.
Rea played for Evans at Oklahoma State where he was a two-year starter and a second team all-Big 12 performer. Prior to competing for the Cowboys, he played at CCCC where he was named a third-team All-American sophomore year.
“Robbie will be helping us on many fronts,” Bonneau said. “Robbie will coach our outfielders and coach first base during games. He brings a lot of energy to the field and has always been around winning programs. We look forward to having him at ACU.”