Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - Tony Vitello, considered one of the top recruiters in the country, has been named the new assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the University of Arkansas baseball team, as announced on Thursday.
"I've been very impressed with Tony over the years with the job he's done recruiting and on the field as a coach," Arkansas baseball head coach Dave Van Horn said. "He's well respected in the baseball community and is considered one of the top young coaches in the country. He has a proven track record of bringing in some of the top recruiting classes nationally. He's very familiar with the region of the country where we focus our recruiting efforts. I'm excited to have him in our program."
Vitello comes to Arkansas after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at TCU. Prior to TCU, Vitello was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Missouri for eight years.
"I am elated to join the Arkansas baseball program," Vitello said. "I've always wanted to be a part of a university that the entire state rallies around. It's an even greater opportunity to learn from Coach Van Horn. I've been watching his teams with admiration dating all the way back to when I was a player in the Big 12 and he was at Nebraska. His teams are known for playing hard, which is a clear reflection of their head coach's leadership and competitiveness.
"I consider myself humbled and blessed to be the one who gets to recruit for a place that is so unbelievably ideal for college baseball," Vitello continued. "I look forward to the coaching responsibilities as well that will allow me and the rest of the staff to help build off of the foundation that Coach Butler laid."
In his three years at TCU, Vitello brought in some of the top players in the country and helped the Horned Frogs to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a super regional berth in 2012.
In 2013, 11 newcomers from an 11th-ranked recruiting class saw time on the field for TCU. A pair of Horned Frog freshmen earned freshman All-America honors as Boomer White hit .314 with 27 RBI, while Alex Young was 7-4 with five saves in 22 appearances, 20 in relief. Despite featuring four new faces, TCU's pitching staff ranked in the top 20 in most pitching categories during the 2013 season.
Vitello's 2012 recruiting class was ranked in the top 10 nationally by Baseball America and the group paid immediate dividends for the Horned Frogs as 16 players made their debut during the 2012 season. Freshman Preston Morrison was named the Mountain West Conference Pitcher and Freshman of the Year and was also tabbed a third-team All-American and a freshman All-American.
Despite the team's youth, the 2012 squad had success on the field, winning the Mountain West Conference regular season and advancing to the super regionals before falling to UCLA. Four Horned Frog hitters earned all-conference accolades and six TCU players were selected in the MLB Draft.
In his first season at TCU in 2011, Vitello worked with a TCU offense that finished the season with a .306 batting average and averaged 6.7 runs per game. The team hit 141 doubles on the season, which ranked fourth all time in school history. The Horned Frogs finished the season with 43 victories and advanced to the NCAA regionals. Five offensive players earned all-conference honors and four offensive players were selected in the 2011 MLB Draft.
In his eight seasons at Missouri, the Tigers made the postseason seven times. Vitello served as the pitching coach at Missouri, while also working with the team's hitters and serving as the first base coach. Vitello's 2008 recruiting class at Missouri was ranked No. 11 nationally by Baseball America and he had top 25 recruiting classes in three of his final four years at Missouri.
During his time as a Tiger assistant coach, Vitello recruited and developed 19 pitchers who were drafted by major league teams, including major leaguers Ian Kinsler, Max Scherzer, Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson, Nick Tepesch, Doug Mathis and Justin James.
Vitello was a volunteer assistant coach at Missouri in 2003 before being promoted to a full-time assistant coach in 2004.
Vitello also served as the associate head coach for the Salina Packers of the California Collegiate League in 2002. The Packers finished 50-14 and earned their first trip to the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kan.
A three-year letterwinner at Missouri, Vitello earned Academic All-Big 12 Conference honors as a senior and was named to the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll twice.