On July 2,2018, Indiana University filled the vacant head coaching position, created by Chris Lemonis, who was hired by Mississippi State to the same position. Even though the Hoosiers have been to the NCAA tournament five of the last six years, 2013 was their last appearance in the College World Series. While Indiana continues to be the most consistent and successful Big Ten team, new head coach, Jeff Mercer is expected to exceed a high bar of expectations.
“I think I’ve hired the Brad Stevens of collegiate baseball,” Fred Glass, Indiana’s athletic director, told IndyStar after the hire. Mercer, 33 and Indiana native, led Wright State to a 77-36 record and 2018 Horizon League champions in two years as head coach. Wright State led the HL in hits, walks, runs, OBP, slugging percentage, triples, home runs, sac bunts, sac flies and hit batsman.
He simply plays the game different. His base running aggressiveness is the first thing that makes him stand out, but his elite recruiting is not far behind. Mercer led Wright State to the first top 100 recruiting class in 2018 and first top 25 team ranking in 2017. His expertise with hitting has helped him develop players into MLB talent, leading to twelve players being drafted under his supervision since 2015.
Mercer quickly made himself at home and added former MLB 7-time all-star and 8-time gold glove winner, Scott Rolen.
“I have great respect for Jeff and his family whom I’ve known for 20 years. I can’t be more excited for Indiana baseball. There is now no better spot for player development than Bloomington, Indiana. I hope the boys are ready to work,” Rolen said shortly after being hired onto the staff.
Mercer’s father was an Indiana assistant from 1988-1989 and helped create the elite Indiana Bulls youth travel baseball team. Even though he grew up in Indiana, it was not easy for him to leave Wright State, where he was two-time all-horizon league and 2009 HL player of the year but, the feeling is that he has found a new home. “I have loved baseball and the state of Indiana my whole life and it is an honor to be the head baseball coach of the state’s flagship institution,” Mercer said in a news release announcing his hiring.