Jimmy Belanger enters his second season as Florida State’s pitching coach in 2021.
In 2020, the Seminoles sported one of the top pitching staffs in the country, ranking Top 20 nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (5th, 12.1), hits allowed per nine innings (13th, 6.27) and earned run average (20th, 2.50). At No. 1 Florida, undefeated entering the game, senior Antonio Velez and freshman Parker Messick combined to allow just three hits and strike out 14 in a 2-0 shutout of the Gators.
Belanger helped oversee the development of Major League Draft hopefuls CJ Van Eyk and Shane Drohan, the Seminoles’ Friday and Saturday starters throughout the season. Five Seminole pitchers had at least 10 more strikeouts than walks in limited action out of the bullpen. Opponents hit just .188 against the Seminoles in 2020.
Florida State’s 208 strikeouts ranked seventh in the country. Against No. 3 Texas Tech, FSU struck out 19 batters, the most in the country against a Top 10 opponent.
Belanger, from North Babylon, N.Y., spent three seasons at the University of Kentucky (2017-19) and has developed 22 major league draft picks over the past seven seasons. In 2019, Kentucky starting pitcher Zack Thompson became the highest-drafted pitcher in Wildcat history and the highest overall Kentucky player since 1996 when he went 19th overall to the St. Louis Cardinals. Thompson went 6-1 with a 2.40 earned run average over 14 starts in 2019.
In 2017, the Wildcats set school records for strikeouts, innings pitched and lowest batting average against. Sean Hjelle was named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2017 under Belanger, eventually getting drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft by the San Francisco Giants. Belanger’s 2017 staff also included a pair of All-Americans, one Freshman All-American, two first team All-SEC selections and four pitchers drafted in the first 11 rounds of the MLB Draft.
Six more Wildcat pitchers were drafted following the 2018 season.
Prior to his time at Kentucky, Belanger coached four seasons at Maryland (2013-16) and three years at Monmouth (2010-12). With the Terrapins, Belanger made two Super Regional appearances in 2014 and 2015, the only two Super Regional appearances in school history. In 2016, the Terrapin starting rotation of Mike Shawaryn, Taylor Bloom and Brian Shaffer combined for 20 wins, 11 complete games and 232 strikeouts against just 48 walks. Maryland finished ninth in the country that season with 2.59 walks per nine innings and was 17th in WHIP (1.22).
Shawaryn set Maryland records for career wins (30), innings pitched (307.1) and strikeouts (307) before being taken in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. As a sophomore in 2015, Shawaryn had the best pitching season in school history, finishing 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA while earning first team All-America recognition from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Perfect Game and Louisville Slugger. His 13 wins and 138 strikeouts led the Big Ten in 2015 and set Maryland single-season records. Shawaryn finished in the Top 20 nationally in wins (2nd), strikeouts (5th) and ERA (17th) before pitching that summer for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
The 2015 Terrapins also set school records in strikeouts with 549 and wins with 42. During its final year in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014, Maryland had its first 500-strikeout season as a staff and its first 40-win season. Jake Stinnett led the ACC with 132 strikeouts en route to All-ACC and All-Region honors.
In three years at Monmouth, Belanger worked with Pat Light, the Boston Red Sox’ first-round draft pick in 2012. In 2011, Nick Meyers was the Northeast Conference Pitcher of the Year while teammate Andrew McGee was the NEC Relief Pitcher of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.
Belanger played collegiately for two seasons at Cecil Community College in North East, N.Y., before transferring to Louisville from 2007-08. In 2007, Louisville reached the College World Series for the first time in school history. Belanger earned his degree from Louisville in 2009.
Belanger and his wife, Tiffany, have two children: son Sutton and daughter Sloane.
|2010 - Monmouth||22-27||.449||--|
|2011 - Monmouth||36-19||.655||--|
|2012 - Monmouth||35-24||.593||--|
|Totals at Monmouth (3 years)||93-70||.571|
|2013 - Maryland||30-25||.545||--|
|2014 - Maryland||40-23||.635||4-2|
|2015 - Maryland||42-24||.636||3-3|
|2016 - Maryland||30-27||.526||--|
|Totals at Maryland (4 years)||142-99||.589||7-5|
|2017 - Kentucky||43-23||.652||4-3|
|2018 - Kentucky||34-22||.607||--|
|2019 - Kentucky||26-29||.473||--|
|Totals at Kentucky (3 years)||103-74||.582||4-3|
|2020 - Florida State||12-5||.706||--|
|Totals (11 years)||350-248||.585||11-8|