University names former Alabama State University coach as baseball coach

Alejandro Solana // Staff Writer

A press conference was held to announce Mervyl Melendez as the new head coach of the baseball team. Melendez was welcomed into the Panther family on Tuesday, June 28.

“Today is an exciting day for all of us, especially FIU baseball,” Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia said. “FIU baseball has a rich and very successful tradition, and that’s one we think will continue today when we announce our new head coach.”

Melendez resigned from the head coaching position at Alabama State University Tuesday morning, a school he spent five years at, hours before the FIU baseball team  announced on twitter that he would be the new hire.

The 42-year-old Puerto Rican native takes over for Turtle Thomas, who resigned from the position just over two weeks ago after nine seasons with the Panthers.

“Almost two weeks ago, we started on this journey, a national search for a head baseball coach,” Garcia said. “I promised our players that we were going to get them the best possible coach out there.”

In the five seasons he coached at ASU, Melendez led the Hornets to 158 total wins, a 24-0 perfect conference regular season in 2016, four consecutive 30 plus win seasons and an NCAA Division I tournament appearance this past season.

“We’re not promising victories, and we’re not promising championships here,” Melendez said. “What I will promise you is that I will dedicate my life to FIU baseball.”

Under Melendez, ASU held a record of 158-117 and a 138-80 mark in the five years he coached there. The 158 total wins Melendez recorded at the helm of the Hornets was the highest five-season total in school history. Prior to Melendez’s arrival in Alabama State, the program hadn’t logged a 20 win season in over ten years.

Despite winning the Conference-USA championship in 2015, the Panthers have only recorded one winning season in their past four.

“I believe in playing well on weekends,” Melendez said. “It’s awesome to win midweek, but when it is all said and done, you have to win your league if you want to get to the tournament.”

In the five seasons at ASU, the Hornets notched a 79 percent winning percentage in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tallying a 95-25 record.

“If you see what has happened the last three or four years, we have concentrated a lot on weekends and we have beaten some people that we supposedly should not have,” Melendez said. “We will always take it one game at a time, but the most important part of our season will be league play.”

Melendez told the media that Universty of South Alabama Head Coach Mark Calvi, an ex-FIU assistant baseball coach for 11 seasons, was one of the bigger factors that ultimately led him to taking the FIU job. ASU was sent home from the NCAA tournament after losing to Calvi’s team 6-3 in the Tallahassee Regional on June 4.

Melendez said: “I talked about this job with him knowing that he had been here. One thing he had said to me was, ‘Mervyl, I think that you would do a great job there if the opportunity presents itself.’”

Melendez thought so as well as he agreed to bring his 17 years of coaching experience down to South Florida. This new opportunity, however, isn’t all that Melendez is excited about.

“I can’t wait to be able to wear shorts everyday to practice,” Melendez said. “I made sure to leave my jacket up in Alabama.”

Photo by Alejandro Solana

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