The Syracuse Spartans announced that the 2019 Spartans coaching staff will return to Central New York for the 2021 New York Collegiate Baseball League season. Head coach Matt Michalski will be joined by hitting coach Kevin Newby and pitching coach Rigo Rodriguez to lead Syracuse.
“I couldn’t be more excited to have our full coaching staff back from the 2019 season,” said Spartans President JJ Potrikus. “These guys are seasoned veterans and know what it takes to compete in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. They are incredible leaders of young men and I couldn’t be more excited for them to help our players grow as people and in their baseball skills!”
Michalski returns for his third season coaching the Spartans, his second as head coach. He started his coaching career with Syracuse in 2018 as an assistant coach. In his first year as head coach in 2019, the Spartans finished third in the NYCBL Eastern Division with a 20-23 record, qualifying for the playoffs. In addition to his duties as Spartans head coach, Michalski also serves on the Spartans Board of Directors as General Manager and Head of Recruiting.
Michalski played his collegiate baseball at SUNY Cortland, where he was a member of the 2015 National Championship team during his freshman season. He was named the defensive player of the 2015 College World Series Tournament and made the All-Tournament Team that year as well. Michalski was named a team captain for the Red Dragons during his senior year in 2018 and has been an assistant coach with Cortland since 2019.
During Newby’s first season as Spartans hitting coach in 2019, Syracuse led the NYCBL in hits with 383. The Spartans also ranked third in batting average at .285 and home runs with 21 under Newby. He was inducted into the Camillus/West Genesee Community Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Newby specializes in player development in California and has spent time developing 41 future MLB players, including nine first-round draft picks.
Newby attended high school at West Genesee and batted over .400 during his three years on the varsity roster. He was named to the All-County North first team all three seasons on varsity and was named team MVP during his final two years of high school baseball. He signed as a free agent with the Montreal Expos after his senior year in 1974 and stayed in the organization until 1977.
Spartans pitchers racked up 289 strikeouts in 338 innings during Rodriguez’s first season as Syracuse’s pitching coach. Rodriguez played his collegiate baseball at San Diego State from 1979 to 1982, participating in three NCAA Division I regionals with the Aztecs. He was selected by the Padres in the 10th round of the 1982 draft as a shortstop. He stayed with the Padres organization until 1986, switching to pitcher in 1985.
Rodriguez started his coaching career working with the San Diego School of Baseball for two years after leaving the Padres. He returned to baseball as a coach for Southwest High School in California. Rodriguez currently coaches the Light baseball team in San Diego and continues to provide private hitting and pitching lessons.
The Spartans will feature collegiate baseball players from around the country in games starting in early June and ending in late July. Spartan home games will take place at Onondaga Community College’s Baseball Complex. The NYCBL schedule will be released soon, and the Spartans will announce their roster additions shortly.