Duke announced the hiring of Chris Pollard as their new baseball coach yesterday after he had spent the previous eight seasons at Appalachian State. For a full story on his hiring, go to The Chronicle main page. Chronicle sports editor Andrew Beaton spoke with Aaron Fitt, the lead college baseball writer for Baseball America to hear his thoughts on the decision to hire Pollard.
The Chronicle: What was your initial reaction to hearing Pollard was the hire?
Aaron Fitt: I thought it was a great choice. Chis Pollard is exactly the kind of candidate that should be discussed--he's a proven winner. He got a team that was coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons and he took them to the Super Regional.
TC: Do you think he will be able to make Duke competitive in the ACC?
AF: I think it depends on how much the school wants it because [previous head coach] Sean McNally is a really good coach and I think if the school had backed him better then he would've won. It's one thing to make that program competitive...but to be a force kind of the way Vanderbilt has become, Vanderbilt [supports them] financially and otherwise.
TC: Pollard had 13 of his players drafted from Appalachian State, how do scouts view him as someone who develops talent?
AF: He seems like somebody who has done a very good job at identifying diamonds in the rough, if you will, and developing those guys into prospects.... He developed those guys into quality players. Not blue-chip or first-round guys, but they can have nice pro careers. From that perspective, when you're at Appalachian State, you're not winning recruiting battles against UNC, N.C. State, South Carolina and Virginia. You have to work harder to find players, frankly--go to places that aren't traditional hot beds.
TC: Do you think having Marcus Stroman selected in the first round of the MLB Draft helps Duke?
AF: It helps--there were a lot of things with McNally there that were encouraging. They were not far away from getting to a regional a couple years ago when they finished .500 in the league.... This program made a lot of strides under McNally. It went from a very uncompetitive program and he made it competitive. He got a first round pick out of there. And they had other guys that they lost to the draft...that came out of high school and signed pro contracts and that would've made a difference too. They thought they were going to get those guys and pro ball kind of snuck up on them. But the fact that they were able to get those players shows that this program has made progress.