STARKVILLE, Miss. – Andy Cannizaro, a former Major Leaguer and one of the rising coaching stars in college baseball, has been named Mississippi State’s 17th head baseball coach, Director of Athletics John Cohen announced Saturday.
“We are thrilled to welcome Andy to the Mississippi State baseball family,” Cohen said. “When you look at all of the characteristics we need in a baseball coach at Mississippi State, Andy is the perfect fit. He has an outstanding resume as a recruiter and scout in evaluating and developing talent. He’s been around some of the best minds in all of baseball during his college and professional career. His personality and knowledge of the game will benefit our players.”
Cannizaro will be formally introduced at a 3 p.m. press conference Monday in the Bryce Griffis Boardroom at the Palmeiro Center. The public is welcome to attend. It will be streamed live on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
Cannizaro has excelled in identifying talent at every stop of his career, including six years as a scout for the New York Yankees and two years as a Southeastern Conference assistant coach. Seven of the players he drafted for the Yankees from 2010-14 reached the Major Leagues, including Bulldog greats Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder.
“I am extremely honored and humbled by the opportunity to become the head baseball coach at Mississippi State and would like to thank President Keenum and John Cohen for trusting me to continue the success of this historic program into the future,” Cannizaro said. “My family and I could not be more excited to become a part of the Starkville community. Our team and our staff understand the tradition and pride in Mississippi State baseball and will be relentless in our pursuit of our first national championship.”
The 37-year-old arrived in Starkville after serving as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at LSU under head coach Paul Mainieri since July 2014. Cannizaro made a tremendous impact in two seasons with a dynamic ability to develop hitters and an aggressive base running prowess. He coached six Tiger batters to All-America recognition and 11 hitters were drafted. Five were selected in the first five rounds.
One of his top protégés, Alex Bregman, became the highest drafted batter in LSU history, going No. 2 overall to the Houston Astros in the 2015 MLB Draft. It took Bregman, a two-time All-American and Golden Spikes Award finalist, just one year to reach the Big Leagues.
In 2015, Cannizaro made an immediate impact as the Tigers finished among the NCAA’s top seven in five different offensive categories. LSU led the nation in base hits (762), while finishing third in stolen bases (130), third in doubles (146), fourth in batting average (.314) and seventh in runs scored (451). The total stolen bases were the most by the program in 28 years since the 1987 club tallied a school-record 156. He helped guide LSU to an SEC championship and the 2015 College World Series. Seven of Cannizaro’s hitters were drafted that year, including Bregman.
Cannizaro’s leadership during the 2016 campaign might have been his finest work. Despite losing eight starters from their prolific lineup of 2015, the Tigers still managed to boast one of the SEC’s top offenses. LSU finished the year ranked first in the SEC in stolen bases (95), second in runs (426), second in triples (21), third in scoring (6.5), third in on-base percentage (0.385) and third in slugging percentage (0.422). The Tigers reached an NCAA Super Regional and four players were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft.
A record-breaking base stealer as a player, Cannizaro’s aggressiveness on the base paths has carried over into his coaching career. Since 2015, no SEC team has stolen more bases than the Tigers (225). That two-year total is 31 better than the SEC’s next closest, Vanderbilt (194).
Before his time at LSU, Cannizaro worked as a Yankees scout from 2009 through 2014, evaluating and recruiting amateur players in preparation for the annual MLB Draft. He was the Yankees’ official representative at the 2013 and 2014 MLB Drafts. He also worked as the advance scout for the team as it prepared for the 2011 and 2012 playoffs.
Cannizaro was the Yankees’ seventh-round selection in the 2001 MLB Draft, and he played in the organization for seven seasons, reaching the Major League level in September 2006. He joined the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 and was on the club’s big-league roster for the first two months of the season. He later played for the AAA affiliates of the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox before retiring from the game in September 2009.
During his Major League career, Cannizaro played and learned under Hall of Famer Joe Torre and World Series champion Joe Maddon.
Cannizaro, a four-year starter at shortstop for Tulane (1998-2001), led the 2001 Green Wave squad to the first College World Series appearance in school history, batting a remarkable .395 with 118 hits, 34 doubles, 70 RBI and 52 stolen bases.
A two-time all-America and three-time all-Conference USA performer, Cannizaro is Tulane’s all-time leader in games played (248), at-bats (1,030), hits (350), doubles (85) and stolen bases (128). He was inducted in 2007 into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame. Cannizaro remains the C-USA all-time leader in career hits and career stolen bases.
A native of Mandeville, La., Cannizaro graduated from Tulane in December 2001 with a bachelor of arts in sociology/business minor.
He and his wife, Allison, are the parents of two children, Gabrielle (6) and Pierce (3).
The Cannizaro File
Hometown: Mandeville, La.
High School: St. Paul’s HS (Covington, La.)
Children: Gabrielle (6), Pierce (3)
Alma Mater: Tulane, 2001 (sociology major/business minor)
1998-2001: Tulane (four-year starter at shortstop; two-time all-American)
2001-07: New York Yankees organization (played for MLB club in Sept. 2006)
2008: Tampa Bay Rays organization (played for MLB club in April-May 2008)
2008-09: Cleveland Indians organization
2009: Chicago White Sox organization
2014-16: LSU (recruiting coordinator/hitting coach)
2009-14: Amateur Scout, New York Yankees
– recruited and evaluated players in preparation for MLB Draft
– worked as East Coast Pro Showcase coach in 2013-14
– served as Yankees representative at 2013 and 2014 MLB Drafts
– worked as Yankees advance scout in preparation for 2011 and 2012 playoffs
2008: Head Coach, Louisiana Knights U18 fall baseball team
What They’re Saying About Andy Cannizaro:
“From the time we drafted him in 2001, Andy Cannizaro consistently defied expectations during his rise through the Yankees minor league system. Despite the long odds against him, he earned his Major League service time by virtue of his unwavering commitment toward mastering the nuances of the game and maximizing his abilities to the fullest. I was also privileged to have him as part of our scouting staff, where he was an exceptional talent evaluator and communicator. I wish him the best of luck in his new role and congratulate Mississippi State University on entrusting Coach Cannizaro to lead its baseball program to even greater heights.”
– Brian Cashman, New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager
“I’m very happy for Andy, this is a tremendous opportunity for him. He’s been a very loyal, hard-working coach for the LSU Tigers, and he’s done a really great job. Andy is a very talented guy, and we wish him well in his new position.”
– Paul Mainieri, AFCA Hall of Famer and LSU Head Coach
“There are certain players you consider family. I have always considered Andy family. This is an exciting time to see him get this opportunity. He is a shining star in the industry. The people in the industry recognize that. He is going to do some phenomenal things at Mississippi State. He is a hard worker and his personality will be a great fit for the program. For him to be named head coach at one of the most storied programs in college baseball, it is a wonderful thing.”
– Rick Jones, ABCA Hall of Famer and former Tulane Head Coach
“Andy Cannizaro is a rising star in the college baseball coaching profession. He is an outstanding person full of great character and integrity who is truly a winner. Andy is more than prepared to take on the task of becoming the next baseball coach at Mississippi State. His energy and passion for young people and the sport of baseball is infectious to anyone he may come in contact with.”
– Jim Schlossnagle, TCU Head Coach
“I really do think he’s a guy that’s going to do a really good job there. I’ve known him for a few years now, and I think when you look at Andy, he’s a guy that’s extremely charismatic. He’s going to recruit extremely well there. He relates to kids. He’s a guy that’s a former big leaguer. He knows what it takes to get to that level, and I think the guy’s a natural. … Andy’s incredibly smart. He was a heralded scout. He had a great eye as a scout, and he did a terrific job with [LSU’s] offense the last couple of years. He’s a total package. He’s got that energy. He’s going to recruit well. He knows what kind of player that you want in that program, and I think it’s going to be a hire that pays some big dividends down the road.”
– Kendall Rodgers, D1 Baseball
“Andy Cannizaro quickly proved himself at LSU to be one of the best assistant coaches in the country. He stands out both for his work as a hitting coach and recruiter, as well as his passion for the game and helping his players improve in all facets. His energy, confidence and understanding of the game will serve him well in Starkville.”
– Teddy Cahill, Baseball America
“Andy is a tremendous human being. He has as much class and integrity as anyone you’ll meet in the game of baseball.”
– Jim Hendry, former GM of Chicago Cubs and special assistant to New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman
— HailState.com —