Oregon’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, Andrew Checketts, is regarded as one of the best pitching coaches not only on the west coast, but also the nation.
Known as a diligent worker with an attention for detail, Checketts work with his young pitching staff during the 2009 and 2010 seasons has been a major reason the Ducks have been immediately competitive on the diamond after a 27-season layoff.
In 2010, Checketts managed one of the nation’s premier pitching staffs in the program’s second year back from reinstatement. The staff managed a 3.29 ERA which ranked second in the Pac-10 and third in the nation. In addition, Oregon’s 2.41 walks allowed per nine innings ranked third in the country as well, while his staff’s 8.76 hits allowed per nine innings ranked 14th in the nation.
Oregon finished the 2010 season with a record of 40-24 and advanced to the NCAA Norwich Regional elimination game as a No. 3 seed. The Ducks finished the year ranked in four out of five national polls, and ended the Pac-10 season tied for fifth in the league standings.
Approaching the 2011 season, Friday-night starter Tyler Anderson has been named to four preseason All-America teams, and was also ranked by Baseball America as the No. 16 college prospect in 2011. Fellow 2010 Collegiate National Team member Scott McGough was named to the NCBWA 2011 Stopper of the Year Watch List, and as also ranked by Baseball America as the No. 47 college prospect in 2011.
The 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft also rewarded Oregon’s pitching staff as weekend starters Justin LaTempa (12th round, Los Angeles Angels) and Zack Thornton (23rd round, Oakland) were selected as well as closer Drew Gagnier (17th round, Detroit). A fourth pitcher, southpaw Ryan Fleckenstein, signed a free agent contract following the 2010 season.
Anderson was named to the 2010 Pac-10 All-Conference Team, while Thornton and McGough received honorable mention accolades. In addition, Anderson and McGough were selected to pitch for the 2010 Collegiate National Team.
Checketts has also played a large role in the recruiting scene for Oregon. For three consecutive years (2008-2010) UO’s recruiting classes have earned top-25 accolades. Most recently, the 2010 freshman class was ranked fifth in the nation by Baseball America’s annual evaluation, and third in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.
The Ducks’ 2008 freshman class, brought in for the program’s first season in 27 years, was ranked No. 2 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball’s annual evaluation, and was also ranked 10th in the nation by Baseball America’s evaluation. The Ducks’ second class received the No. 24 ranking in the nation from Baseball America in the fall of 2009.
In 2009, Checketts had three pitchers from his staff selected in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft, and two were elected as Pac-10 Conference honorable mention picks. One of those all-conference selections was the staff’s ace, right-hander Erik Stavert. The junior earned a third of the team’s wins on the mound, and finished his year with a 3.04 ERA and 82 strikeouts, before being drafted in the seventh round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies.
After taking over in a closer role for Oregon, Drew Gagnier finished 2009 with seven saves, a 1-0 record and a 2.70 ERA. He was also selected in the 14th round (423 overall) by the Oakland Athletics in the 2009 MLB Draft, but chose to return to Oregon to further improve his stock while working with Checketts.
Checketts had an additional pitcher selected in the 2009 draft when left-hander Bennett Whitmore was chosen by the Seattle Mariners in the 32nd round.
In his coaching career at UC Riverside and Oregon, Checketts has had 21 pitchers selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, with five making it to the Major Leagues. Most recently, former UC Riverside Highlander Dan Runzler - a 2007 draft pick of San Francisco - won a World Series championship with the San Francisco Giants.
Checketts began his campaign with the Ducks when he was hired on Sept. 5, 2007, by University of Oregon coach George Horton to complete the inaugural staff.
Checketts, was an Oregon native, but was also well-known to Horton as a young and up-and-coming coach at UC Riverside, a Big West Conference rival of Horton’s former home - Cal State Fullerton.
In 2007, UC Riverside was the Big West Champion and was ranked as high as 13th in the country during the season. It marked the first time in 20 years that a Division I program in the UC system won its outright conference championship.
In Checketts’ coaching career he has had a total of 31 pitchers drafted or sign pro contracts, and in 2007 had seven pitchers drafted or sign pro contracts, including three drafted in the top 10 rounds.
Upon his arrival at UC Riverside, the West Linn High School product made an immediate impact as the staff earned run average improved by almost three runs and the team broke the school record for strikeouts in his first year. During his first three seasons at UCR, the team ERA improved every year.
Checketts also played a key role in recruiting for the Highlanders. UCR’s 2007 class received national recognition with a top-25 ranking from Baseball America.
In his final season, UCR’s pitching staff ranked among the nation’s best in ERA (3.68) and strikeouts per game (8.0).
Checketts began his coaching career at Riverside Community College, where he served as pitching coach under Dennis Rodgers and helped the team to their second consecutive California State Championship in 2001. While he was at RCC, the pitching staff set the school record for ERA.
A former draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, Checketts played one season at Florida and three at Oregon State. As a senior in 1998, he posted an 11-1 record and 3.77 ERA in 13 starts, striking out 73 batters in 86 innings, earning Pac-10 North Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball Magazine Second Team All-American, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Second Team All-American and All-West Region Second Team honors. He was also named Pac-10 North All-Conference in 1997 and 1998, finishing his collegiate career with a 30-12 record.
Checketts graduated from Oregon State with a degree in Business Administration, Finance. He was drafted by Boston in the 21st round of the 1998 MLB draft.
Checketts graduated from West Linn High School in 1994, and that season was named the Oregon High School State Player of the Year.
He and his wife Michelle have one daughter, 1-year-old Amelia Anne.