Ryan Vruggink has been named the new Head Coach for the Florence RedWolves 2019 Season.
Vruggink is a veteran of the CPL, having coaching stints in Macon and Martinsville. The experience of being in the league was one of the main reasons he chose the Florence job.
"My first goal whenever I decided to pursue opportunities as a head coach for the summer of 2019 was to stay in the CPL," said Vruggink. "Having been in the league now for three years, I've grown to really appreciate the level of talent and fans that the games draw on a night to night basis."
"When I first spoke with Barbara, I was thrilled that she was interested in the possibility of me becoming the next RedWolves head coach. The facilities at Francis Marion are beautiful and I think will really help me in recruiting for the 2019 Summer and I can't wait to work with her and Kevin to make this a great season of RedWolves baseball. "
Last season, Vruggink was a part of the inaugural coaching staff for the Macon Bacon as pitching coach.
The Bacon pitching staff was effective this season, with a team ERA of 4.57 and tossing 416 strikeouts. One of the pitchers Vruggink coached in Macon, James Williams, finished with a 2.49 ERA and 46 strikeouts and was named a CPL National League All Star. Williams also played for the RedWolves in 2017, where he'd finish with a 3-0 record, a 3.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts.
Vruggink was also named pitching coach for the 2018 CPL Select vs Team USA game in Cary, North Carolina.
Before coming to Macon, Vruggink was with current Bacon coach Danny Higgenbotham in Martinsville for two seasons.
While with the Mustangs, Vruggink coached Joshua Vincent to the 2017 CPL All Star Game. Vincent finished 2017 with a 2.91 ERA and 23 strikeouts.
Being in the CPL for so long, Vruggink has been able to not only watch his players develop, but he's also been able to develop himself as a coach.
"I think this league does an incredible job of developing players," says Vruggink. "The coaches and front office groups across the lead are top notch and provide players the opportunity to excel in front of big crowds and give them a true sense of what pro ball is like."
"With that being said, the talent that this league is able to attract is also high and as an assistant coach I have gotten to learn a lot from the guys that I have worked with in Macon and Martinsville. I have gotten to watch and talk with guys at some of the best NCAA programs in the country and learn what they do on a day to day basis and add or modify parts of the throwing program I have at my school with what I've learned in mind."
During the collegiate season, Vruggink is an assistant at NJCAA member Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Missouri.
Last season, the Cardinals went 27-23. Pitcher Kollin Stone was named 2nd Team All-Region with a 4.50 and 62 strikeouts and will be attending Arkansas State next season.
As a player, Vruggink began in the bullpen at the University of Houston, before transferring to Arkansas Tech.
As a freshman at Houston, Vruggink appeared in 14 games out of the bullpen striking out 13 and held opponents to a team-best .222 batting average.
In his senior year at Arkansas Tech, Vruggink pitched 29 innings, finishing with a 4.34 ERA and 46 strikeouts for the Wonderboys.
Vruggink graduated from Arkansas Tech with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration – Marketing and Management. He just completed his Masters of Education with an emphasis in Sports Administration from the University of Central Methodist.
Vruggink is already excited for the 2019 season.
"I'm thrilled for my first head coaching position," says Vruggink. "I think it is a step that I am ready to take and one necessary for me to take to further my career. I'm extremely thankful that this opportunity is in the CPL, in a league that has so much history and tradition."