Arizona Wildcats baseball head coach Andy Lopez announced the new-look coaching staff for 2015, and a familiar name will be returning to Tucson.
Excited to add Brock Ungricht as the new assistant & Shelly Duncan as the new undergrad assistant. Both are strong additions to the program!— Coach Andy Lopez (@CoachAndyLopez) June 27, 2014
That's right, Arizona's all-time home run leader appears to have called it a playing career, and will be returning to Tucson to complete his degree, as well as serve as an undergrad assistant for the baseball team.
Shelley Duncan hit 55 home runs in 144 games from 1999-2001 for Arizona. In his collegiate career, he batted .322 and drove in 186 runs.
Duncan played a total of 330 games in Major League Baseball over seven seasons with three different teams (Yankees, Indians, and Rays). He had exactly 200 career hits, and batted .226 in just under 1,000 plate appearances.
Shelley was around the team before the start of this past season after he signed a minor-league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He will be primarily working on the team's offense as well as the outfielders.
The more important name to know though is Brock Ungricht. It seems he will be quasi-replacing Shaun Cole, who left earlier this month to become the director of USA Baseball's U-18 team after serving as the Arizona pitching coach since 2010.
Ungricht has spent the last four years as a volunteer assistant coach at Stanford, and also held the same position on Tony Gwynn's staff at San Diego State in 2010. At Stanford, Ungricht worked with the catchers and hitters, which is what he'll do at Arizona as well.
You may be thinking to yourself, how does one replace a pitching coach with a guy who works with catchers and hitters? Well, it appears Andy Lopez, and his son Michael Lopez, who is currently a volunteer assistant, will be working with the pitchers in 2015.
So no specific pitching coach. Interesting.
Ungricht was a player at San Diego State, and was a freshman all-american while hitting .373 in 63 games as an Aztec. He finished his SDSU career with a .318 batting average.
Matt Siegel, who has been at Arizona for three years, will remain on the coaching staff, and will focus on the infield as well as recruiting and scheduling. That leaves just three of six total coaches that were in the dugout in 2014 on staff in 2015 as undergrad assistants Bobby Rinard and Rafael Valenzuela both graduated in May.
After how the last two years have gone, changing the voices was needed. And bringing back someone like Shelley Duncan instantly gives the coaching staff some more credibility.
I don't know how I feel about not going with a specific pitching coach, but if Andy Lopez is in the business of delegating responsibilities like this, there's no reason it shouldn't work. If there's one thing to look at the last two seasons it's the lack of a dominating personality on the bump Friday nights. I feel like Lopez and his son will be able to groom someone into that guy, whether it's Tyger Talley, Cody Hamlin, or other.