Mercer settles on baseball coaching staff

Jeff Mercer’s coaching staff will have both in-state ties and professional baseball playing experience.

Mercer, Indiana’s new baseball coach, announced he has hired former Central Florida pitching coach Justin Parker, former Indiana Bulls executive director Dan Held as recruiting coordinator and former VMI staffer Casey Dykes as his volunteer assistant.

Parker is a Fort Wayne native who previously worked with Mercer at Wright State. He spent the past two seasons at UCF, where his staff posted a 3.32 ERA in 2018, while notching 556 strikeouts — the second-most in program history.

“Justin and I played together in college, then were assistants together for several years,” Mercer said. “It’s been very gratifying to see him become one of the best pitching coaches in the country. Indiana University baseball is better in every way with Justin joining the organization. He is an incredible asset to our entire program, not just our pitching staff.”

Parker’s first season at UCF produced one of the best pitching staffs in the nation. The Knights finished fifth in ERA (3.00) and 10th in WHIP (1.22). He’s had 12 pitchers selected in the MLB Draft during his career, including five in the first 10 rounds.

Parker was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 43rd round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of Fort Wayne High School, but opted to play for Wright State. He was later drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB Draft, and spent three seasons in Arizona’s organization.

“I couldn’t be happier to be back home in Indiana, to work with Coach Mercer again and to continue to build on the tradition here,” Parker said. “As far as recruiting Hoosiers and player development, I am just really looking forward to doing that here at home.”

Held has established deep ties to grassroots baseball in the Hoosier state after joinging the Indiana Bulls organization in 2006. The premier travel program in the state, Indiana Bulls has produced four big league players and 80 total draft picks since Held took over.

“I’ve known Dan for over 10 years,” Mercer said. “He hired me for my first coaching job with the Indiana Bulls directly after college. Working with him over the years it became obvious he’d make a terrific recruiting coordinator. His experiences in professional baseball as a player and coach will translate well to our player development processes. His many relationships with high school and summer coaches will make for a smooth transition into leading our recruiting efforts.”

Held, a 42nd round draft pick in 1993, enjoyed a nine-year professional career inside the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets organizations. During his minor league career, Held hit 121 career home runs and drove in 474 runs. He spent three seasons at the Triple-A level, playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Norfolk.

He returned to the Phillies organization in 2002 as a hitting coach with Batavia (Short-Season A) and then served as a bullpen assistant from 2003 to 2007 with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was a member of the 2006 World Series Champions coaching staff.

“I am really excited to join Jeff Mercer and Justin Parker at IU,” Held said. “It’s going to be an awesome staff and I’m really excited to get going.”

Dykes comes to Indiana after spending the last four seasons with the VMI baseball program. He worked with the catchers, hitters and served as the program’s recruiting coordinator.

“I coached Casey at Western Kentucky and then coached with him for a year, before he left to become the recruiting coordinator at Virginia Military Institute,” Mercer said. “His outstanding track record of player development and tireless work ethic will be driving forces in our program’s success. I’m thrilled to work with Casey again and we’re very fortunate he’s joining IU Baseball.”

23 comments

  1. Putting things in perspective I like the place and direction of IU baseball program including new coaching hires that brings local in state flavor that wants to be at IU to baseball program.
    You can here a pen drop regarding IU football recruiting. About a month ago IU got 4 or 5 commits within a week. Was that the climax for the 2019 class? Was that it? Is there going to be any significant recruiting left for 2019 which was not highly ranked to begin with and still finds itself playing catch up.

    1. t,
      I’m a little confused about this one too. 247 has ’19 tracking 5 spots better than one of IUFB’s best years in ’18. Rivals is holding at about the same from ’18 to ’19. Not sure what you are seeing but expectations of a top 25 recruiting class at this point are asking a bit much. Holding in the 40-50 range for a couple years represents a significant improvement. If TA can build on ’18 & ’19, then top 30-35 classes are not out of the question in the near future as the program continues to build. A couple good years on the field wouldn’t hurt anything either.

    2. Cool your negativity. It’s been a quiet period for recruiting. No contact allowed by coaches till last week of the month. Part of the recruiting cycle for all.

      1. Exactly HC! Thanks for the reminder of the no contact period. I was as suprised as you by the negative comment. I thought TA & staff were having a great recruting year by IU standards.

        1. t shouldn’t have to cool anything …He doesn’t fall into traps of attacking other posters(and there’s been ample times every regular here has been plenty negative to do so). Furthermore, he was a rare breath of fresh air by being the furthest thing from the many apologists who enabled Hoosier mediocrity in our basketball program during the most inexplicable turning of a blind eye ever beset upon McCracken.
          Patience is a virtue …but utter dishonesty in the protection of the inadequacies of the unqualified is a great way to cool down the lowest bars of progress. t has never been in such a camp and his very tame “negativity” is mild compared to true deceit and 80 million dollar stall games for a cue card coach/program.

          1. And go Hoosier Football and Hoosier Baseball!
            May Sputter Sr. and Sputter Jr. be blessed with many future football Cheetos Bowls(the standard to keep a renaissance coach) and the welcoming mat to be a doormat courtesy of ‘Southern hospitality’ at college baseball postseason picnic parties in Omaha(courtesy: thinkaboutit, will ya?)….while we finally attempt to make basketball, once again, a program with old fashioned Indiana values residing in team concepts, teaching competence, and integrity.

  2. What? I think you’re confused, t. We received a lot of great news about football recruiting for the 2019 class. It may turn out to be one of the best recruiting classes in the history of IU Football, and it comes on heals of a very strong 2018 class, which is definitely one of the highest rated classes in IU Football history. Signing day is a long way off, so I doubt we’ve heard the last news about football recruiting for the 2019 class. Not sure what concerns you?

    So far, T.A. has impressed me with his ability to improve recruiting. With the improved facilities and him expanding the Florida pipeline, I have every confidence that T.A. is doing a good job of recruiting better talent, especially on defense. I’m a little less confident about recruiting for the offense, but only time will tell.

  3. Standards. Yes, by IU football standards. IU fb recruiting has improved and would be contenders in the Mac fb conference which they may or may not win. (have to beat teams like Ball State). However, IU football is in Big Ten East or ( West ), take your pick where the norm is usually couple teams ranked in top 12, 2 more teams in top 20, 2 more teams in top 25, and a couple teams receiving votes. IU may have a couple of winning seasons with the aid of Florida International which was scheduled in place of Central Florida a few years ago. However, IU football is in Big Ten East and football life is tough. They have to recruit like it.

  4. or the past is a predictor for the future. The question is how much will the IU football fortunes change into more than 4, 5, 6, 7 wins or less than 4, 5, 6, 7 wins.

  5. I like Allen but this does often feel like just a reset of the previous model/models.
    I suspect real energy to get fans into Memorial will only have possibilities with a nationally recognized name at the helm(e.g. someone with pedigree at the head coaching position).
    It is the Big 10 East …..and a ‘long distance’ vision is tough to sell to fans and better recruits who recognize the competition we’re up against.

    The football program needed a head-turning hire and some motivation to overspend for an experienced name willing to take the risk. Everything else feels like a rowboat setting out to cross the Atlantic.
    If you want to really adhere to these ‘incrementally better’ designs, then you best come up with a way fans are willing to swallow it…along with likely losses against the same old list of dominant Big teams. I hate to agree with anything decided at Purdue….but maybe it’s time to sell beer with bad football….?

    1. H4H & t,
      I too share your frustration at the lack of progress that is IUFB. In my lifetime I have seen 3 previous coaches who had the potential to transform IUFB. Pont, Mallory, & Hoeppner. I have some hope that TA may be the 4th.

      This being said, H4H alluded to getting a name coach to take over the helm at the IUFB program. I would say this is about as unlikely to ever happen as can be, for several reasons. A) IUFB history, B) The cost to get an effective coach to IU (not necessarily elsewhere), would be prohibitive and the blowback from Academic circles would be fierce. C) The historical lack of support for the program by Hoosier Nation. I suppose one could find many more reasons, but the point is made.

      I am curious about one thing somewhat related to the matter. IU Alumi just recently elected a new Trustee. Was the sad state of IUFB an issue in the election? If it was not, then there is part of your answer. I know there is a fair amount of criticism of the elite FB schools regarding Academics, but therein may lie the problem for IU.

      There is one thing to be said about the elite FB schools, if the FB program is not doing well and nothing is done, it’s not just the coach whose neck is on the chopping block. Everyone in the chain of command is held responsible by the alumni and the powers that be. So much so, that no longer has to be said at many institutions, which I know, is a double-edged sword.

  6. I think some of the points I make are misconstrued negative. It is not that IU fb is as bad as rather the realistic challenge it is in the big ten conference. They are more just observations of college football mainly big ten and how IU fb realistically plays itself in its environment of an elite football conference. There are always going to be an equal number of losers to winners. The question is whose place can IU fb take in big ten top half (top 5, 6 or even 7) With the exception of a season or two here and there which may be IU football Self Actualization (if IU fb can achieve that). I have watched many IU fb games against mid majors and below or majors that are not that good for that particular year and more times than not these games are very competitive and IU comes close to or even loses these kinds of games. Yes, so do the best teams, but the better and best teams will win their share of the so called big games. I like T.A. and am glad he got the job in IU fb state of affairs because it presents a paradigm of opportunity both ways for the team,himself, staff, and university and all that is related to it. With top 35 -45 recruiting class yearly (ok sounds good) teams will struggle to play 500 ball in big ten. So if you put one pretty good team on pre conference schedule along with one average team, and one sure win team it equals a consistent 500 or a game or two above 500 sometimes (a 9+ win season would definitely be exception…how often has that happened). As far as coaching up players and player development though it all sounds good almost every single major program that plays fairly good football and above have advanced and the best in these areas also.

    1. t,
      I am not necessarily disagreeing with everything your saying, there are many things we and most agree when it comes to IUFB. The sad part is you said the B1G is an elite FB conference, but I am not so sure we can say that. I seriously doubt a single B1G team could get through an SEC west season without at least 2, maybe 3 losses and the SEC east is on the way back.

      Being in SEC country as long as I have, the one thing see different between IUFB and what even the small school SEC teams do, is the fan base support. I know a lot of the upper tier B1G schools support their team very well, even to SEC standards. We are not talking about the other B1G schools, we are talking about IU. What Hoosier Nation has to do, it never consistently has, is support the FB program as stongly as the BB program. You can’t build a winning FB program with fickle fan, administration and donor support.

      . . . .and yes, the baseball thread did get redirected. Need some more FB news to respond to.

      1. BigTen not necessarily an elite conference in football?
        Not a single BigTen team could get through the SEC east without 2 or 3 losses?
        An inferior BigTen East team, IU, struggles to be relevant in the inferior BigTen?

        And this was all supposed to cheer me up? Is this what they meant by “Win Today”….? ….because winning tomorrow is out of the question?

        Come to thinkaboutit, I just had a “breakthrough” moment. We suck in a suck football conference. We are suck x 2….and the only thing IU could breakthrough if placed in the SEC would be 3-ply Charmin tissue while stampeding onto the field. But does the term “stampeding” imply our tiny feet would make noise?

        And ‘t’ was accused of spreading “negativity” ….because it’s much more uplifting to talk positively about IU in their little happy bubble of learning to walk on two feet while having inferior BigTen football parents?

        Everything at Indiana is so inferior to the South! How much would Mayflower Moving Co. charge to move us into that little top portion of Texas? Maybe we can do like the Colts and sneak down there unnoticed?

  7. Damn South….They’re better at everything. We should just play this intro at IU football games. …(especially when we don those silly chrome helmets to appear flashy in a dull/inferior football conference).

  8. A ‘party school’ that doesn’t offer a bit of brew at football games?

    Purdue is one of 10 schools in the Big Ten that allow alcohol sales at football games but one of only four that permit sales throughout the stadium. The others are Maryland, Ohio State and Minnesota. Alcohol is not sold at Indiana or Notre Dame.

    If we play and primarily lose in the inferior BigTen, the least we should be granted at Memorial is to cry in our beer….Loosen up, Fred.

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