St. Thomas University Head Baseball Coach Jorge Perez has been named ABCA/Diamond Regional Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. Perez won the award after leading St. Thomas to a 48-18 overall record and the first runner-up finish at the NAIA World Series in school history.
Under the guidance of Perez, the Bobcats defeated host Georgia Gwinnett in the NAIA Opening Round to qualify for the World Series for the fifth time in school history. At the NAIA World Series, the Bobcats staved off elimination four times in the ten-team double elimination tournament to earn a spot in the NAIA World Series Championship Game for the first time. The Bobcats fell to host Lewis-Clark State 10-7 in the championship and finished the year ranked no. 2 in the nation in the final NAIA Coaches Poll. Five Bobcats were named to the All-World Series team and outfielder Jerry Downs, the highest selected NAIA position player in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, was drafted in the 15th round by the Boston Red Sox.
In six seasons as the Head Coach at St. Thomas University, Perez has compiled a 240-172 overall record and led the Bobcats to the NAIA World Series Opening Round in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015. In 2012, he also led STU to its first Sun Conference Tournament Championship.
Before arriving at St. Thomas in 2009, Perez was the head coach at Gulliver Prep and South Dade Senior High School. During his high school coaching career, Perez accumulated a record of 80-54. He led his teams to two Regional Final appearances and in 2007, participated in the 3A Final Four State Tournament with the Gulliver Prep Raiders.
Perez has been around baseball his entire life. As a player he was fortunate to be involved in both collegiate and professional baseball. Perez graduated from Rollins College in 1993 where he was a four-year letter winner. At Rollins, he participated in two regional tournaments, played on the only team in school history to be ranked #1 in the country, and was part of the squad that beat both the University of Miami and University of Florida in the same season. After college, Perez began his professional playing career by signing as a free agent with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League. From there, he played two more seasons with two other professional organizations.
Perez began his coaching career in 1996 as an assistant at Kean University (a nationally ranked Division III school in New Jersey). His main responsibilities included developing the catchers and hitters. In 1998, the program participated in their first regional appearance in 25 years. In 1999, Perez was hired as an Assistant Coach by Manny Mantrana at St. Thomas University. In the year 2000, St. Thomas compiled a 51-16 record, won the Florida Sun Conference Championship and participated in the NAIA College World Series.
Coach Perez received his Master's Degree in Educational Administration in May, 2012 from St. Thomas University. Perez resides in Kendall with his wife, Mitzie and two daughters, Mia (15) and Jenna (8).
The ABCA, founded in 1945, is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level. Its over 6,600 members represent all 50 states and 23 countries. Since its initial meeting of 27 college baseball coaches in June 1945, Association membership has broadened to include eight divisions: NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, Junior College (NJCAA and Pacific Association Division), High School and Youth.
The ABCA/Diamond Coach of the Year Awards are sponsored by Diamond Sports. Diamond products are sold through team sporting goods stores nationwide. Product and purchase information can be found at diamond-sports.com. Diamond is the official baseball of the ABCA.