Pitching job draws candidates familiar to Prado
USF baseball coach Lelo Prado will be busy this week trying to find a new pitching coach for the Bulls, and the list of interested parties includes two confirmed applicants with ties to Prado's past.
University of Tampa pitching coach Sam Militello, who pitched for the New York Yankees in 1992-93 and was the national Division II Player of the Year while playing for Prado at UT in 1990, confirmed Saturday that he's talked briefly with Prado about the job and is intrigued at the idea of moving across town to reunite with his college coach.
"It's in my hometown, and the relationship I had with Coach Prado from my playing days has been a very good one. He was like a mentor to me," said Militello, 40, who has been UT's pitching coach for 10 seasons. "It's an interesting job from that standpoint. Coach Prado has played in our golf tournament every year and has been a huge supporter of UT baseball. Because of my relationship with him, it's something that could be very interesting."
Another interested coach has known Prado and USF executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis, who oversees the baseball program, for a long time -- former Houston coach Rayner Noble, who wasn't brought back by the Cougars last month after 16 seasons and a 551-420 career record.
Noble has a strong pitching background -- he once pitched on the same Texas high school staff as Roger Clemens, and pitching was a strength of his Houston teams, which made eight trips to the NCAA regionals and won three Conference USA crowns. He went up against Lelo Prado from 1997-2005 in C-USA when Prado was at Louisville and saw what Prado was able to do in building a program with the Cardinals.
"I respect the job that he does," said Noble, 48. "He did a great job in getting that Louisville program on the map. He wasn't there when they went to the College World Series, but he was the mastermind behind that."
Noble's first college job came in 1987 as an assistant at his alma mater, Houston, and the man who hired him was McGillis, who worked there from 1984-97, including Noble's start as the Cougars' head coach.
"I'm ready to get back to work," said Noble, who has missed even the offseason of coaching in the past month. "Once you're involved in pitching as a coach, you're always involved with pitching. ... Hopefully something might work out there at South Florida."
One other applicant worth mentioning is former major-league reliever Alan Mills, who pitched in 474 games over 12 big-league seasons with the Yankees, Orioles and Dodgers from 1990-2001. Mills, who likes in Lakeland, was a player-coach with the Tigers' Class-AA team in 2007 and spent the 2008 season coaching in the Tigers' system.
Coming off a disappointing 26-32 season, Prado is looking to find a successor to pitching coach Lazer Collazo, who stepped down last week to spend more time with his family after five seasons as Prado's pitching coach, including all four of his years at USF. The Bulls already have a new hitting coach in former major-leaguer and USF alum Chris Heintz, and will be playing in a new ballpark in 2011 as well.