Cal Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Golden Bear pitching coach Mike Neu had accepted the head coaching position in Berkeley. Neu will replace longtime head coach David Esquer, who led the Bears to five tournament appearances in his 18-year tenure.
Neu will return to Berkeley after spending the last two years as head coach at the University of the Pacific. He found little success at Pacific, compiling a 36-67 record in his two seasons as head skipper.
As Cal’s pitching coach from 2012-2015, Neu saw nine of his pitchers get selected in the MLB draft. Trevor Hildenberger of the Minnesota Twins is the sole pitcher from Neu’s tenure currently on a major league roster. Neu’s best pitching staff at Cal came in 2015 when the Bears boasted a 3.03 ERA, the team’s best since 1976.
Neu’s supporting staff is still yet to be named, but the program may bring in former assistant and ex-Cal infielder Mike Reuvekamp along with last year’s hitting coach Brad Sanfilippo. The Bears will also need a pitching coach, as former assistant Thomas Eager followed Esquer to Stanford.
Despite being away from the program for a couple of years, Neu will fit right in with the team. Along with being pitching coach, Neu served as the top recruiter at Cal, and is familiar with many players on the current roster. Before leaving for Pacific, Neu recruited pitchers Jared Horn, Joey Matulovich, Matt Ladrech, Erik Martinez, and Aaron Shortridge. His recruiting skills aren’t limited to the pitching however, as he also helped recruit Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Andrew Vaughn and outfielders Tanner Dodson and Jeffrey Mitchell Jr.
Neu will take over a young and promising Cal team that will have high expectations for the 2018 season. The Bears only lost two starters from last year (3B Denis Karas and SS Preston Grand Pre to the draft), and have a talented group of freshmen coming in. If the newly polished and experienced team can play to their full potential, the Bears could be eying a trip to Omaha next year.