Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Sean Snedeker is in his sixth season as Duke's pitching coach and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience gained at the professional level to Duke's staff.
A native of Bryan, Texas, Snedeker came to Duke in 2007 after spending 12 seasons as a pitching coach in the Chicago White Sox organization and another year in the Los Angeles Dodgers system. Snedeker has spent nearly 20 years in player development and has had a tremendous impact in the success of Duke's pitchers during his tenure.
The Blue Devil pitching staff has improved in nearly every statistical category during Snedeker's tenure and had its best season in 2008 when the group finished sixth in the nation in ERA and among the top 20 in walks and hits allowed per game. Duke's strikeout rate has improved every year under Snedeker, including in 2011 when the group averaged 7.71 strikeouts per nine innings for the program's best mark in over a decade.
Snedeker has transformed a number of Duke players into ACC-caliber pitchers and professional prospects. In 2010, three Duke pitchers were selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, marking the third time in school history that three Duke pitchers were drafted in the same year. Snedeker and the Blue Devils also accomplished that feat in 2009 when a school-record four Duke pitchers were drafted, including All-ACC first team selection Andrew Wolcott, All-ACC closer Alex Hassan and juniors Christopher Manno and Michael Ness. Manno and Ness opted to return to Duke for their senior seasons only to have their names called again in the 2010 draft along with classmate Jeremy Gould. In 2011, right-hander Dennis O'Grady became the latest Duke hurler to be drafted.
In only five seasons, Snedeker has produced three All-ACC pitchers and two legitimate ACC aces. In his first season in charge of the pitching staff in 2007, Snedeker mentored right-hander Tony Bajoczky and coached the senior ace to one of the all-time great seasons by a Duke pitcher in the aluminum bat era. Bajoczky, who had a 6.70 ERA in three years prior to Snedeker's arrival, went 9-3 with a 3.22 ERA as a senior and picked up conference wins over ACC powerhouses Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia and North Carolina. Bajoczky was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and reached the Double-A level in only two years before retiring from professional baseball to pursue a law degree.
Another one of Snedeker's major successes was Wolcott, who began his tutelage under Snedeker as a sophomore in 2007. A 6-6, 240-pound right-hander, Wolcott made steady improvements between his sophomore and junior seasons before breaking out as one of the ACC's top three starters as a senior. Wolcott, who posted ERAs of 6.46, 6.10 and 3.45 in his first three seasons, broke out in 2009 with an 8-3 record and a 2.77 ERA. Wolcott performed even better in the spotlight, going 5-0 in six starts against top-20 teams. Wolcott's success vaulted him into the 18th round of the 2010 MLB Draft where he was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Also emerging under Snedeker was the 2008 All-ACC selection Hassan, who served as Duke's closer and outfielder. Hassan stepped in as Duke's closer as a sophomore and totaled nine wins and 13 saves in his career - tying the school record - before signing with the Boston Red Sox as a junior.
Prior to Snedeker's arrival in 2007, Duke's pitching staff had lower than a 5.72 ERA just one time since 1999. However, in his first three seasons, Snedeker helped Duke lower that mark to 4.50 in 2007, 3.71 in 2008 and 4.83 in 2009. Duke's 3.71 ERA in 2008 was the program's lowest mark since 1993 and the team's third-lowest ERA since the aluminum bat era began in 1974. Additionally, Duke's pitchers have dramatically lowered their number of walks and home runs allowed under Snedeker and in 2008 surrendered the fewest hits, runs and walks in the ACC.
Snedeker has also turned Duke's bullpen into one of the most effective groups in the ACC. After finishing third in the ACC with a school-record 17 saves in 2009, Duke's bullpen won 14 games and saved 11 games in 2010.
In 2011, Snedeker mentored O'Grady to a 6-3 record and a 3.65 ERA. O'Grady had won only seven games in his first three seasons before his six-win senior campaign. Snedeker has also been instrumental in the development of right-hander Marcus Stroman. Stroman, who was voted the 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year, became the first Duke player to make Team USA's final collegiate roster. Stroman was a member of Team USA's Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2011 when he served as the team's closer and went 4-for-4 in save opportunities. Stroman finished his sophomore season at Duke with three wins, four saves and a 2.80 ERA, while ranking third in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings. As a group, Duke registered 424 strikeouts on the season, which is the third-highest total in school history.
Prior to his start at Duke, Snedeker worked primarily with budding talent at the Class-A and Rookie levels, most recently with the White Sox Class-A affiliate Kannapolis Intimidators. Snedeker has coached over 40 current or former major league pitchers, most notably 2005 American League All-Star Jon Garland.
Additionally, Snedeker's 2002 Kannapolis Intimidators pitching staff led all White Sox farm teams with a 3.63 ERA and 1,000 strikeouts, while his Advanced Rookie pitching corps in Bristol led the Appalachian League in strikeouts and saves and finished second in ERA.
Snedeker also spent six seasons as a player in the Los Angeles Dodgers system after being selected in the 30th round of the 1988 MLB Amateur Draft. He reached as high as the Double-A level and finished his career with a combined 34-21 record and a 3.24 ERA while starting over 70 games on the mound. His career highlight came at Class-A Vero Beach when he tossed a seven-inning perfect game on August 28, 1991 against St. Lucie.
As a right-handed pitcher at Texas A&M from 1987-88, Snedeker compiled a 17-4 overall record on the mound in two seasons of work. In 1988, Snedeker turned in a 9-2 record and a 3.50 ERA while striking out 87 batters and walking 41. He earned the C.E. "Pat" Olsen Outstanding Pitcher Award in the same year.
Snedeker holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Kinesiology from Texas A&M. He and his wife, Mary Jane, have two children, an 18-year-old daughter, Sydney, and a 13-year-old son, Sy.