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Pitching Coach Brad Cook, a Johnson City, NY, native, enters his eighth year at Polk State, where he’s led the pitching staff to numerous honors and achievements.
Under Cook, Polk State pitchers have helped lead the program to a 277-100 record and six Suncoast Conference Championships in seven years. His staffs have finished in the Top 10 in the country (NJCAA D1) in ERA four out of the last six years and were No. 1 in 2012, 2015, 2017.
At Polk State, he has mentored three All-Americans, two Gulf Region Pitchers of the Year, three Gulf Region Firemen of the Year, four Conference Pitchers of the Year, five Firemen of the Year and 28 All-Conference selections. They have earned a total of 32 scholarships to four-year programs, including 18 to Division 1 programs, and six pitchers have been selected in the MLB Draft.
In 2017, Eagles pitchers proved once again to be the top staff in the country, finishing first in ERA (2.54), second in fewest Walks (132) and 18th in strikeouts (479). Seven pitchers posted an ERA under 3.00.
Jordan Spicer was named Suncoast Conference Pitcher of the Year and First-team All-Region. Zach Schneider became the fifth Eagle to be named Firemen of the Year and Gulf Region Fireman of the Year. Along with Spicer and Schneider, Justin Gill was also name First Team All-Conference.
In June, the MLB Amateur Draft heard two Eagles’ names called: Second-team All-Conference Shameko Smith was drafted and signed by the Colorado Rockies in the 13th round and Spicer was selected in the 26th round by the Minnesota Twins.
Helping the Eagles earn a berth in the 2012 NJCAA JUCO World Series, the College’s pitchers led the NJCAA and the state in several categories and set numerous school records. The staff’s 1.99 ERA was best in the country. Polk State pitchers also led the state in innings pitched (496.1, No. 2 nationally), opponent batting average (.214, No. 2 nationally), and walks allowed per game (2.4, No. 3 nationally), all school records.
Under Cook, current Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alec Asher broke numerous school records, including games started (16), innings pitched (111), strikeouts (118), and wins (13). Asher was selected as the Suncoast Conference Pitcher of the Year, Gulf Region Pitcher of the Year, NJCAA First Team All-America and a Rawlings Gold Glove recipient. He was selected by the Texas Rangers in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB draft and made his MLB debut in 2015 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Seven pitchers from the 2012 season’s staff signed scholarships to four-year institutions.
Prior to Polk State, Cook served as pitching coach for Florida Southern College for two seasons. The 2010 Moccasins pitching staff finished second in ERA (4.06) in the Sunshine State Conference. Two of Cook’s pitchers were taken in the MLB Draft that June, Daniel Tillman (second round, Angels) and Max Russell (fourth round, Angels). In his two years at FSC, Cook’s pitchers had a record of 82-32, and he mentored an All-American, five All-Region selections, and five All-Conference selections.
In all, Cook has coached four All-Americans, 13 All-Region Pitchers, five Firemen of the Year Award winners, and one Gold Glove winner. His teams have a record of 359-132 for a .731 winning percentage.
As a player, Cook was a NJCAA All-American at Keystone College (Pa.) in 2000 before transferring to Division I Marist College (NY). While at Marist (2001-2002), he led the team in ERA in 2002. He was named to the MAAC All-Tournament team in 2002. Following his college career, he played two seasons with the Elmira Pioneers of the Northeast League.
Cook received his bachelor's degree in special education from Marist College in 2003 and earned his master's degree in mathematics education from Walden University in 2007. He has been a Special Education teacher for the Polk County School District for nine years.
Cook lives in Winter Haven with his wife, Sarah, and sons Broderick (5) and Dreux (2).