CLINTON, S.C. – Presbyterian College head baseball coach Elton Pollock announced the additions of assistant coach Blake Miller and volunteer assistant coach John O’Neil to the program’s coaching staff on Monday.
"Blake Miller and John O'Neil will have an immediate and positive impact on our baseball program," Pollock said. "Miller will take over as our pitching coach and assist with recruiting, while O'Neil will take over with as our infield coach and assist with our hitters. Each brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from prior coaching stints at the Division I level. I am extremely excited to have them joining our staff."
Miller comes to PC from Inspiration Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he was the post-graduate program’s head coach and director of player development since August 2017. While there, Miller oversaw all aspects of running the program including player development, recruiting, budgeting and games.
Prior to his time at Inspiration Academy, Miller spent four seasons as the pitching coach at the United States Air Force Academy. In his tenure with the Falcons, he helped elevate their pitching staff to new heights and several new school records. The bullpen collected a program-record 381 strikeouts in 2015 and then 385 strikeouts in 2016. The team posted a program-best 4.54 ERA in 2015, its lowest since 1979. That season, the pitching staff also held opposing batters to a .265 average, the lowest since 1974. Miller helped the program improve its win total from 16 in 2013 to 30 in 2016.
Miller saw three of his players drafted during his time at the Air Force Academy. Senior closer Ben Yokley struck out 45 batters in 34.0 innings in 2015 and was a 29th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. Yokley went on to pitch for the Johnson City Cardinals, in the Appalachian League (Class A), during the summer of 2015. Then in 2016, juniors Griffin Jax and Jacob DeVries were both drafted. Jax was coming off a 9-2 season where he posted a school-record 2.05 ERA and was a third round selection (93rd overall) of the Minnesota Twins. The Cleveland Indians took DeVries in the 38th round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Players Draft.
Prior to his time with the Air Force, Miller spent two years as the pitching coach at Savannah State. He was a part of the program’s historic 2013 season that included winning the school’s first MEAC Championship and NCAA Regional bid. Along with defeating two top-25 teams that season, the Tigers improved their win total from 19 wins in 2012 to 33 wins in 2013 and lowered their team ERA from 6.15 to 4.93.
During the 2013 season, pitcher Kyle McGowin, under the tutelage of Miller, established himself as one of the best pitchers in the nation. McGowin posted a 12-2 record with a 2.02 ERA. He led the MEAC and ranked third nationally with 135 strikeouts that season. McGowin became the first pitcher in school history to be named a Division I First Team All-American (NCBWA) and win the MEAC Pitcher of the Year award. He was a top-10 finalist for the National Pitcher of the Year award and top-30 finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. Following his junior season, McGowin became Savannah State’s first pitcher to be drafted. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected him in the fifth round (157th overall) in the 2013 MLB Amateur Players Draft.
In addition to McGowin’s success, Miller had two pitchers named to the MEAC All-Conference Team and saw five members of his pitching staff earn MEAC Conference pitcher-of-the-week honors. In addition, pitcher Rex Davis was named MEAC Freshmen of the Year in 2012.
Prior to coaching at Savannah State, Miller was the pitching coach at Emerald High School in Greenwood, S.C. from 2008-10. While at Emerald, the pitching staff set school records for team ERA in 2009 and again in 2010. Two of Miller’s pitchers were named to the All-Region Team and three players went on to pitch at the collegiate level.
Miller holds a bachelors degree in history from Coker College. He graduated in 2007 after playing four years of baseball for the Cobras. A relief pitcher, Miller’s career record was 6-2 and during the 2005 season he set the previous school record for most appearances in a season with 28. Miller’s coaching career began at Coker when he was a student assistant during the 2007 season.
O’Neil comes to PC from the University of Tennessee at Martin where he spent one season as an assistant coach. He worked with all infield positions, base runners, assisted with team offense and coached third base while also overseeing team travel, field maintenance and scouting reports.
Prior to his time with the Skyhawks, O’Neil previously served as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a member of the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference, where he was responsible for managing all recruiting efforts and overseeing team offense and infielders during the 2017 season.
He served as the Hawks’ interim head coach from January 2015 through August 2016, leading the program to their most non-conference wins (nine) in 2016 and most conference wins (14) in 2015. Under his guidance, the program also saw its most wins over a two-year span (32) in over two decades. Not just focused on the field, the Hawks earned consecutive Male Team Scholar Awards for having the department’s highest team GPA and saw 25 MEAC All-Academic honorees. O’Neil also oversaw the program’s improved fundraising campaigns, playing facility, player equipment and community service involvement.
O’Neil served as an assistant coach at Maryland Eastern Shore from August 2011 until he assumed the role of interim coach. In 2012, he assisted the Hawks to the most conference wins in program history and a third place finish in the MEAC Tournament.
During the summer of 2011, O’Neil coached the Middlesex Rays of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League. He oversaw the expansion team during their first season with the collegiate wooden bat league.
During the 2010-11 baseball season, O’Neil served as the top assistant at the University of the Sciences, which is located in Philadelphia, Pa. He helped guide the NCAA Division-II team to its most conference wins, first conference tournament appearance, first conference tournament win, two First Team All-CACC players, a First Team All-Region infielder and two All-Academic honorees.
From 2008-10, O’Neil was the lead assistant at Colby-Sawyer College, a NCAA Division-III program located in New London, NH. He assisted the team to a conference tournament appearance while coaching three All-CCC players, an All-Region selection and two All-Academic honorees.
O’Neil played collegiately at Colby-Sawyers College from 2004-08, serving as the team’s starting catcher and designated hitter. At the prep level, he received state awards as an infielder at Burrillville High School in Rhode Island.
O’Neil graduated in 2008 with a bachelors degree in Exercise and Sport Sciences with a focus on Sport Management. In 2010, he completed his masters in Sport and Recreation Management with a focus in Coaching from New England College.