Embarking on his 13th season overall and seventh as head baseball coach in 2016-17, Mike Diaz is no stranger to leading Centenary College to success.
Overseeing the baseball program upon its move to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference for the 2013 season, Diaz has guided the Gents to a stellar 51-23 (.689) conference mark and the SCAC Regular Season Championship in both 2013 and 2015.
Player accolades under Diaz's guidance the past six seasons include four MLB Draftees, an SCAC Freshman of the Year from 2013-2015, an SCAC Player of the Year in 2013, an SCAC Pitcher of the Year in 2015, 39 All-Conference selections, 14 All-Tournament honorees, seven All-Region winners, two Freshman All-Americans, and a D3baseball.com and an American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-American.
Diaz himself was the SCAC Coach of the Year in both 2013 and 2015.
The 2016 season saw Centenary finish the season 26-13 (10-8 SCAC). The .667 winning percentsage was the best mark in more than 25 seasons and was the second-best percentage since the 1960's. Eight different players received nine All-Conference accolades, including Michael Schimpf (outfield) and Kaleb Kirk (starting pitcher) receiving First Team recognition and Dakota Brown (relief pitcher and outfielder) grabbing two Second Team honors.
American Baseball Coaches Association named Schimpf, Kirk and Chris Zapata to the All-Region squad in the West. Schimpf received All-Region accolades from D3baseball.com. Brown was named All-Louisiana First Team Utility while Schimpf was named to the Second Team as an Outfielder by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA)
Academically, Schimpf became just the fourth Maroon and White athlete and the first in five years to be named Academic All-America, as Presented by CoSIDA.
In 2015, Diaz led the Gents to a 24-17 record (15-3 SCAC) and their second conference championship in three seasons. Taylor Henry – who was drafted by the N.Y. Mets in the 21st round – was named SCAC Pitcher of the Year and an All-West Region honoree by both D3baseball.com and ABCA/Rawlings. Henry led the SCAC in both saves (nine, 15th in the nation) and strikeouts (85, 21st in the nation). He finished second in the conference and 28th in the nation in ERA (1.59) while finishing seventh in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (12.3).
Also in the 2015 campaign, Chris Zapata was named SCAC Freshman of the Year. Centenary claimed nine All-Conference accolades and five All-Tournament selections.
Diaz led the Gents to a 19-22 record in 2014 while going 11-7 in SCAC play. Six Gents were named All-SCAC First Team with Aaron Quintanilla being named SCAC Freshman of the Year. Quintanilla along with Chris Jones, also an All-Conference First Teamer, were named to the ABCA All-West Region Third Team. The Maroon and White also claimed three All-Conference Honorable Mention and two SCAC All-Tournament honorees.
In 2013, Diaz helped guide the Gents to an SCAC conference crown with a record of 15-5 and an overall mark of 26-15. The 26 wins in 2013 and 24 the preceding year marked the first back-to-back winning seasons for the Maroon and White since the 2009 and 2010 programs boasted a combined 63 victories.
The successful campaign saw a school record 10 All-SCAC selections, including the Player and Freshman of the Year in third baseman Craig Littleman and pitcher Paul Arcement, respectively. The Gents also saw eight players earn SCAC Pitcher and Player of the Week laurels along with Tyler Clakley, Ryan Gasporra, Nick Parrott and Arcement being named to the SCAC All-Tournament Team.
In 2012, Diaz guided Centenary to a 24-15 record in its first season in the American Southwest Conference.
In his first season at the helm of the program, Diaz helped develop breakout seasons for freshmen RJ Talamantes and Pete Rajkovich. These two were named Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-Americans, while Talamantes was honored as a First Team All-Summit League selection at third base and Rajkovich a Second Team All-Summit League honoree in center field. They were each named to the All-Louisiana team as well.
Diaz, along with his staff, played an integral role in Seth Lugo's career as he was drafted by the New York Mets as a right-handed pitcher in 2011. Undrafted James Hoyt and Lugo both made their Major League Baseball debut in the summer of 2016, becoming the first time the Gents have had a pair of players in the Majors at the same time.
In six seasons with Centenary baseball, Diaz is 131-113 overall (.537 winning percentage).
Prior to being named head coach in 2010, Diaz served as an associate head coach for five seasons. In this role, Diaz was instrumental as the hitting coach and infield play specialist while coaching third base. He also oversaw the team's strength and conditioning program in addition to working as the team's recruiting coordinator.
While at Centenary as an associate coach, Diaz has helped guide the Gents to a 141-125 record and a pair of 30-win seasons in 2008 and 2009. From 2005-2010 as both an associate and his first season as head coach, he helped guide Centenary to six straight conference tournament appearances.
As the recruiting coordinator, Diaz was fortunate to bring in and work with four All-Americans and 25 All-Conference players – including the 2010 Summit League Pitcher of the Year in Boone Whiting – and several All-Louisiana Sports Writers Association selections. Also under his direction, 13 players have signed professional contracts.