The Wildcats' new head baseball coach announced Monday that former Maryland assistant Jim Belanger has been named as the UK pitching coach.
“What sold me was Coach Mingione,” Belanger said of his decision to join the UK staff. “I had a great situation at Maryland, and for me to leave, it had to be something special. Coach Mingione is ultra-positive and his attitude and energy are qualities that are going to make him a really good head coach. I also knew about Kentucky and the league speaks for itself.”
Belanger (pronounced BELL-in-jer) has helped develop 10 MLB draft picks during the last four years with the Terrapins.
“I wanted Coach Belanger at Kentucky for numerous reasons,” Mingione said in a statement released by UK. “What stood out to me was how much family means to him, the fact he’s won everywhere he’s been and his track record of player development.
“He did a great job at Maryland, going to two super regionals the past three years, and he truly understands what it takes to win at a very high level. His player development has been second to none. What he’s been able to do with players who went undrafted out of high school and how he’s turned them into legitimate prospects and top draft picks is impressive. He is an outstanding communicator, with the perfect demeanor for a pitching coach."
Belanger developed one of the nation’s best starting rotations in 2016, with Mike Shawaryn, Taylor Bloom and Brian Shaffer combining for 20 wins, 11 complete games and 232 strikeouts with only 48 walks. The starting trio led a Terrapin staff that finished ninth in the country in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (2.59) and 17th in WHIP ratio (1.22).
In 2015, eight of Maryland's nine returning pitchers lowered their ERAs from the previous season.
Belanger, who also served as UM’s associate head coach in 2015 and 2016, has been very active in recruiting. He helped Maryland to a top-20 recruiting class in 2015.
A native of North Babylon, N.Y., Belanger pitched two years at Cecil Community College in North East, Md. He compiled a 17-4 record and 2.90 ERA. Belanger went on to the University of Louisville, where he pitched in 2007-08 and helped the Cardinals advance to the 2007 College World Series.
Belanger’s wife, Tiffany, is originally from Louisville. They have one son, Sutton.