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Assistant Baseball Coach Brad Cook, a Johnson City, NY, native, enters his seventh year as pitching coach 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 236-87 record and five Suncoast Conference Championships in six years. He has mentored two All-Americans, two Gulf Region Pitchers of the Year, three Conference Pitchers of the Year, 24 All-Conference selections, and four Firemen of the Year.
Pitchers have earned a total of 26 scholarships to four-year programs, including 15 to Division 1 programs, and four pitchers have been selected in the MLB Draft. His staffs have finished in the Top 10 in the country in ERA three out of the last five years and were No. 1 in 2012 and 2015.
In 2016, Eagles pitchers proved once again to be one of the top staffs in the country, finishing ninth in ERA (3.43) and 11th in strikeouts (490, a school record). Zak Spivy was named Suncoast Conference Pitcher of the Year and First-team All-Region. Once again an Eagle was named Firemen of the Year: Justin Tworek. Tworek was also named Second Team all-Conference along with Jonathan Bermudez.
In 2015, the Eagles pitching staff once again led the country in ERA (2.49) and set a school record for strikeouts in a season with 416. Jordan Barrett was named to the All-Region team, finishing fifth in the country in ERA (1.43), and Cody Gamble was the state Firemen of the year. In addition, two of Cook’s pitchers were selected in the MLB Draft in June, with Jordan Guerrero picked in the sixth round by the San Diego Padres and Maikor Mora going in the 29th round to the Texas Rangers.
In 2014, Casey Kulina was named Gulf Region Pitcher of the Year and NJCAA Second Team All-America with a state-leading 12-1 record. Matt Pearce was a repeat selection on the All-Conference First Team along with Conference Pitcher of the Year Kulina. Pearce went on to be selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
In 2013, reliever Trey Norris was named Regional Fireman of the Year and Suncoast Conference Fireman of the Year with a school-record 14 saves. Matt Pearce was First Team All-Conference, closing out the season with a 17-inning scoreless streak.
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 Philadelphia Phillies 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. Seven pitchers from the 2012 season’s staff signed scholarships to four-year institutions.
The 2011 Eagles’ pitching staff led the Suncoast Conference in wins, walks, saves, and ERA. Reid Noah was named Fireman of the Year for his state-leading 11 saves, then a school record. Three of Cook’s pitchers earned scholarships to four-year schools.
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 three All-Americans, 11 All-Region Pitchers, four Firemen of the Year Award winners, 24 All-Conference selections, and one Gold Glove winner. His teams have a record of 318-134 for a .704 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).