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Ernst Signs Free Agent Contract with Cincinnati Reds
Wake Forest redshirt senior relief pitcher Joel Ernst has signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
Phil Negus Agrees to Terms with Chicago White Sox
Wake Forest junior right-handed pitcher Phil Negus has agreed to terms with the Chicago White Sox, foregoing his final season of eligibility. Also, 2009 recruit Jacob Johnson has signed with the Cincinnati Reds and will not be attending Wake Forest.
Tom Walter, who returned the New Orleans baseball program to national prominence after the school was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, is now in his third season at the helm of the Wake Forest baseball program.
Walter was named head baseball coach at Wake Forest on June 16, 2009. During his first two seasons leading the Demon Deacons, Walter has recorded a 43-68 overall record. In just his second season with the team (2011), he guided the Deacs back to the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2008 after finishing the conference schedule with a 15-15 record.
More impressive than any on-the-field accomplishments, Walter selflessly donated a kidney to outfielder Kevin Jordan just days before the 2011 season opener. Jordan was diagnosed with a serious kidney disease and needed a transplant. Without hesitation, Walter gave Jordan one of his own, and in turn, gave Jordan an opportunity at a new life.
Entering his 16th year as a head coach, Walter has amassed an overall record of 469-396.
Prior to coming to Wake Forest, Walter spent five seasons at New Orleans. He compiled a 153-147 record at UNO and helped the Privateers to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008.
New Orleans also boasted one of the best offenses in college baseball under Walter. The Privateers set school records for home runs in both 2007 and 2008 with 97 round-trippers in '08. In 2008, the team also set school records in hits (743), runs (581) and RBIs (524). The offense, which ranked in the top 10 nationally in eight offensive categories throughout the year, helped UNO record its most wins (43) since 1996.
The Privateers recorded their second-consecutive trip to the postseason in 2008, becoming the only school in Louisiana to achieve back-to-back postseason bids in 2007 and 2008 and one of only 37 teams in the country to accomplish the feat.
During the 2008 season, UNO took two of three games from College World Series participant LSU, swept a pair of games from Alabama and also took two of three games from Tulane.
New Orleans also had seven players drafted in the 2008 MLB Draft and a total of 10 Privateers signed professional contracts.
Walter led New Orleans to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his tenure in 2007. UNO finished the season with a 38-26 record, which included the school's first Sun Belt Tournament Championship since 1979. The Privateers knocked off regional-host Wichita State in the first game of the 2007 NCAA Regional.
New Orleans combined to win 81 games in 2007 and 2008 and had 13 players sign professional contracts over the two seasons.
In 2006, Walter was able to guide the Privateers to a 30-28 record, despite having to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Walter re-located the team to Las Cruces, New Mexico for the fall semester. The team then moved to Mobile, Alabama, for the month of January and Westwego, Louisiana, for the months of February and March. The team finally returned to campus on March 21, 2006.
Walter's players have also had success in the classroom as all but one of his student-athletes who spent all four years at UNO graduated.
Walter came to New Orleans after a successful eight-year coaching stint at George Washington, which included leading the Colonials to the 2002 NCAA Tournament and an appearance in the Winston-Salem regional, which was held at Wake Forest Baseball Park.
Walter averaged 39 wins a season at GW and is the school's all-time wins leader with a 273-181 record. In the five seasons prior to Walter's arrival, the Colonials averaged 21.5 wins a year.
During his time at George Washington, 26 of Walter's players went on to play professionally. In 2002, six Colonials were taken in the MLB Draft, which marked the most players taken from the school in a single year.
While at GW, Walter also was the head coach for the Cotuit Kettlers of the Cape Cod Baseball League in the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He led the Kettlers to the playoffs in '97.
At Cotuit, Walter coached eight players who went on to the majors and 25 players who signed professional contracts. Included on some of his teams were current big leaguers Aaron Harang (Reds), Chris Capuano and Garrett Atkins (Rockies).
Walter also was a head coach of the New Market (Va.) Rebels during the summer of 1994, where he led the team to the Shenandoah Valley League title.
Before going to GW, Walter spent two years as an assistant general manager with the Greensboro Bats. He performed various duties for the then-New York Yankees Class A affiliate.
Walter played his college baseball at Georgetown University and started all four seasons either behind the plate or in the outfield. He served as team captain in 1990 and 1991 and was named to the 1991 Big East Conference All-Academic Team.
Walter graduated from Georgetown in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in finance. He later went on to earn his MBA at George Washington in 1994, while serving as an assistant coach for the Colonials.
Dennis Healy is in his third season as an assistant coach at Wake Forest. Healy serves as the Demon Deacon pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
"Dennis is the perfect person to take our pitching staff to the next level," said head coach Tom Walter. "His ability to get the most out of each and every one of his pitchers is second to none in our business. He has an exceptional ability to identify exactly what a pitcher needs to do to be successful at the highest level and then has the knowledge base and the communication skills to make the necessary corrections and have them translate immediately on the field."
Healy spent four years as the head coach at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and led the Red Foxes to the 2009 NCAA Baseball Regionals. During his tenure at Marist, Healy had 11 players named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team including four first team selections. Earlier this month, Marist closer Jacob Wiley, the MAAC Relief Pitcher of the Year and the MAAC Tournament MVP, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. Wiley was the first Marist player taken in the draft since 2003.
Healy and Walter have previously worked together at both George Washington and the University of New Orleans. Healy was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at GWU under Walter for five seasons, a period in which the Colonials enjoyed tremendous success. GWU set school records for wins in three of Healy's five seasons with Colonials including 37 wins in 2000, 38 wins in 2001 and 42 victories in 2002. In 2003, GWU posted its highest winning percentage (.673) since 1986. In his fall recruiting class of 2001, all seven of his signees went on to sign professional baseball contracts.
"From a recruiting standpoint, he is a tireless worker and a terrific evaluator," said Walter. "He will take Wake Forest recruiting to a national level and get us in front of the best players in the nation.
"I couldn't be happier that Dennis has chosen to become part of the Wake Forest family."
Healy, a native of Ballston Spa, N.Y., was a four-year starting pitcher at GWU from 1993-96. He earned second team All-Atlantic 10 honors as a senior and was a second team All-East Region and second team All-ECAC pick. Healy was 7-3 as a senior and ranked 12th in the nation with a 2.25 ERA. The right-hander also served as team captain as a senior.
Healy served as the head coach of the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2004 as he led the team to a Southern Division title and a successful run in the league playoffs.
Healy is a 1996 graduate of George Washington with a degree in criminal justice. He began is collegiate coaching career at Cleveland State where he served as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Vikings. He earned his master's in sports management in 1999 from Cleveland State while serving as an assistant coach.
Bill Cilento enters his third year as an assistant coach at Wake Forest. He will work primarily with the Demon Deacon hitters and infielders.
"Having worked with Bill for two years at the University of New Orleans, several things stood out to me," head coach Tom Walter said. "Bill has a passion for college baseball that is exemplary and is a tireless worker and relentless recruiter. He is also able to quickly and easily develop a mutual respect and unique rapport with his players."
Cilento joined the Wake Forest staff after serving the previous three seasons at Brown University where he worked as the hitting coach and the infield coach. As a team, Brown hit .308 during the 2009 season, finishing the year with a 24-19-1 record. Matt Nuzzo, an infielder for Brown in 2009, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2009 MLB Draft after hitting .324 with 11 home runs.
"At Brown, Bill has taken his recruiting base to a national level and has still managed to maintain an excellent relationship with the players in his charge," Walter added. "Our hitters will be well instructed and well prepared."
Cilento made an immediate impact with the Brown baseball program in his first season in 2007, helping the Bears to their first-ever Ivy League Championship and NCAA regional berth. Brown led the Ivy League in nearly every offensive statistic in 2007, including winning the batting average category by 39 points.
Walter and Cilento worked together at New Orleans for two seasons. Cilento worked with the Privateer infield during his two seasons at UNO and also assisted with recruiting. During his tenure, he helped to recruit 38 future Privateers. In his last season, New Orleans improved its record by 11 games, finishing fourth in the Sun Belt Conference. Cilento coached three All-Sun Belt players while at UNO.
Before his time at New Orleans, Cilento was an assistant at his alma mater, Siena. He primarily worked with the Saint pitchers and also was the recruiting coordinator. In three seasons, he coached five players who were selected in the MLB Draft, the MAAC Pitcher of the Year, a freshman All-American and six All-MAAC selections. During each season, his pitching staff finished in the top two in the conference in ERA.
Cilento worked as a hitting instructor for the 2002 regular season champion Schenectady Mohawks of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. In 2001, he coached the American Legion's Cissel Saxon Post 41 in Montgomery County, Maryland, to the 2001 Maryland State Championship.
Cilento was a four-year starter at Siena and was a member of two MAAC regular season championship teams. He was also a part of the 1999 Siena team, which competed in an NCAA regional at Wake Forest Baseball Park.
A native of Brookeville, Md., Cilento graduated from Siena College in 2003 with a degree in accounting.
Jim McGonigle is in his first season with the Wake Forest baseball team, serving as a volunteer assistant coach.
McGonigle spent his first four years at the University of New Orleans (2007-10) before playing his last season at Texas State.
A native of Houston, Texas, McGonigle posted a 3-2 record and struck out 53 batters in his first two years with the Privateers. His 2009 season was lost due to injury, but he rebounded in 2010 with a 2-2 record and a 4.98 ERA in 43.1 innings of work.
"Jim is a great addition to the staff. Being on three NCAA regional teams in four years makes him a winner, but what always resonated with me about Jimmy was his professionalism," said Wake Forest head baseball coach Tom Walter. "He took his day-to-day work very seriously, and bringing that approach to our ball club is invaluable."
McGonigle currently resides in Winston-Salem.
Director of Baseball Operations
T.J. Baxter is in his first season as the director of baseball operations at Wake Forest.
Baxter comes to Wake Forest after playing three seasons of minor league baseball in the Baltimore Orioles system. The Point Pleasant, N.J., native was drafted by the Orioles in the 24th round of the 2008 MLB Draft. He played for the Aberdeen IronBirds in 2008 and 2009 and for the Delmarva Shorebirds in 2010.
While with the Shorebirds, he had eight homers, five triples, 16 doubles, 34 RBIs and 34 stolen bases.
Prior to his time as a professional, Baxter started for four years at the University of New Orleans for head coach Tom Walter.
"Adding a baseball operations position allows us to elevate the program," said Walter. "Adding TJ brings a fierce competitor and a gamer into our clubhouse. The more we can have him around our guys, the better we will be."
Baxter currently resides in Winston-Salem.