UK ended their coaching search this afternoon with the hiring of Nick Mingione from Mississippi State. Mingione was an assistant at UK from 2006-07, a term including the schools only SEC Championship. This is a solid hire by Mitch Barnhart and the entire athletic department.
Many fans will remember Mingione as a coach from a dynamite staff that included John Cohen, Brad Bohannon, and Gary Henderson. The 2006 team won the school’s first SEC Championship and hosted a regional. Following the stint of success, Mingione left to be the recruiting coordinator for Western Carolina before joining Cohen at MSU in 2009.
With a very supportive athletic department, Cohen and Mingione built a powerhouse in the SEC West. Mississippi State won two SEC titles and went to the finals of the College World Series once while Mingione was an assistant. Even more impressive than that is the players that he helped to recruit and develop in his time as an assistant. Mingione worked with several outfielders that turned out to be studs in Starkville before excelling as pros.
Mingione coached one of my favorite players to ever come through the SEC in Hunter Renfroe. A first round pick of the Padres, Renfroe was an outfielder on the MSU team that went to the CWS in 2013. According to MSU Athletics, Mingione has seen 53 players be selected in the MLB Draft. That number had several names added last week, including first round pick Dakota Hudson.
MSU has been a top level program since Cohen took over, so getting a disciple of his is a great hire. Several assistants have left MSU for head coaching gigs recently, including Butch Thompson to Auburn. Mingione has never had a head coaching job, but this is still the right move for UK. Mingione seems excited to get to work at UK as soon as possible.
“This is an opportunity I’ve dreamed about for more than a decade,” Mingione said. “From the moment I first stepped foot on campus I knew it would be a place I could call home. What an incredible feeling to be back. Kentucky is a special place and this baseball program has had great moments over the years, including some that I have been a part of. I can’t wait to get to work on building toward an even brighter future.”
There are several reasons that this a great hire for the program. Mingione has a great reputation as a recruiter and a developer of talent. He is the kind of coach that will build a staff around him that promotes a winning attitude. Cohen is known as a program builder, and Mingione will bring in that kind of attitude next season at UK. Another reason this is a great hire is because Mingione gets the most out of his players. In 16 years of coaching, Mingione has had 189 SEC Honor Roll Members and three SEC Scholar Athletes of the Year. The guys he brings in tend to succeed when they get on campus and stay consistent throughout their time in college.
The hiring of Nick Mingione caught me a little off guard, but I really like the decision. Mingone is only 38 years old and brings an atmosphere of success with him to Lexington.
We will have more coverage of the BatCats’ new coach as the week progresses. For consistent updates, follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR.