TAMPA - University of South Florida baseball coach Lelo Prado has announced the hiring of Minnesota Twins minor league manager and former Bulls great Chris Heintz as an assistant coach.
"We had a number of good candidates for this position, but Chris Heintz stood out above them all," said Prado. "Our players will benefit from his experience in professional baseball both as a player and as a coach. Chris has a good demeanor and will be a great teacher. And most importantly he is an alumnus of the program. He is passionate about USF Baseball, and he will make an immediate impact on our program."
Heintz will take over as the Bulls' hitting coach and will also work with the infielders and catchers. He replaces former assistant coach Bryant Ward.
"I am very excited about coming back to USF," said Heintz. "It's a special opportunity to be able to help the program that I was a part of as a player. I am very grateful to Coach Prado for bringing me home to the Bulls family ."
Heintz returns to his alma mater after spending the last two seasons coaching and managing in the Minnesota Twins organization. Most recently, Heintz ran the Twins' extended spring training in 2010 and served as the manager of the Twins' Gulf Coast League affiliate. In 2009, he served as a coach of the Twins' Midwest League affiliate in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Heintz brings with him an impressive resume dotted with success as a player in both the collegiate and professional ranks.
Heintz played four seasons with the Bulls from 1993-96. The Clearwater Countryside High School product is still a fixture in a number of USF offensive categories and was a member of three NCAA regional teams. He sits in the top 10 in almost every career statistical category, ranking fourth in batting average, ninth in at-bats and runs scored, eighth in hits, fifth in runs batted in and fourth in doubles. Heintz was named an All-American in 1996, capping a senior campaign that was one of the finest in USF history. That year, Heintz set USF single-season records for hits (106) and runs batted in (95), while hitting .400 with 16 home runs.
Heintz, an outstanding student who graduated with a degree in economics, was selected in the 19th round of the Major League Draft by the Chicago White Sox in 1996 and went on to play 13 years in the White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Twins organizations. He played in the Major Leagues as a member of the Twins in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Heintz retired from professional baseball in 2008.
Heintz returns to Tampa in hopes of helping the Bulls become one of the elite teams in college baseball.
"I know there is a foundation in place here to win championships," said Heintz. "We have a really talented group of returning position players, a very deep pitching staff led by two potential All-Americans and a promising class of incoming recruits who will step in and contribute immediately. I can't wait to get started."