Jon Mueller enters his 18th season as the head coach of the University at Albany baseball program in 2017. The Stillwater, N.Y. native has had proven success as both a player and coach throughout his career. Mueller ranks first among UAlbany's career leaders with 377 coaching victories, and was named the America East Coach of the Year in 2004. He also led the Danes to the program's first America East Conference tournament championship title and NCAA appearance in 2007. Mueller has produced dozens of all-conference standouts and has had six players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft under his direction.
Not only is Mueller well respected in the UAlbany campus community, but also throughout the region, as he was inducted into the Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame in the fall of 2012, as well as the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame and Stillwater High School Hall of Fame in the fall of 2008. UAlbany placed third in the America East tournament, the team's highest finish since 2011.
The 2017 season saw the Great Danes earn 26 wins, the most since 2009, the third most in the program's Division I era, and the second most overall among America East teams that season. In conference, UAlbany went 10-13 to finish the regular season in fourth place, the team's best record and highest finish since 2013. Additionally, the Great Danes comiled their highest winning percentage, .500, since 2007, and were one of 18 teams out of 46 in the region to finish .500 or better. During the season, UAlbany players earned a total of four America East weekly awards. Following the regular season, UAlbany had seven players receive at totol of eight All-Conference awards, including First Team, Second Team, All-Rookie, and All-Academic.
Under Mueller's guidance, the program returned to the America East tournament during the 2016 season, thanks in part to a nine-win improvement of the team's 2015 record.
Right-handed pitcher Stephen Woods was selected in the eighth round of the MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants as a junior. His selection, 245th overall, was the highest a UAlbany player has been selected in the MLB Draft. Additionally, Woods was the first America East player to come of the board last season.
Brendan Ryan joined Class of 2015 graduate Craig Lepre with the Normal Cornbelters in the Frontier League of independent baseball. Class of 2011 graduate David Kubiak was signed by the New York Yankees and promoted to the Trenton Thunder, the team's AA affiliate. In total, 13 players have singed independent league contracts during Coach Mueller's tenure, to go along with eight MLB Draft selections.
Mueller assembled UAlbany's 2013-14 incoming class that was recognized as the top recruiting class in the Northeast Region by Baseball America. Right-handed pitcher Stephen Woods highlighted the group, opting to attend UAlbany after the Tampa Bay Rays selected him in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft. The Great Danes featured two all-conference selections in the 2014 season, as infielder Brian Bullard earned first-team honors and Evan Harasta was named to the second team, as well as the all-academic team.
In 2013, Mueller piloted UAlbany to an appearance in the America East Tournament for the fifth straight season and for the eighth time since 2004. Earning the No. 3 seed, the Great Danes logged a 16-14 conference mark on the season and finished the year with a 23-25-1 overall record. With a 4-3 victory over conference-foe Maine, Mueller reached the 300-win milestone on May 4th. Under Mueller's direction, UAlbany garnered seven all-conference honors, including Josh Nethaway's first-team accolade. The Great Danes also boasted the second-highest batting average in the conference with a collective .273 average and a .288 mark in league play.
In 2012, Mueller led the Great Danes to a No. 2 seed in the America East Championship, recording the highest total league wins in the program's Division I history, with a 16-8 record. Under his direction, seven earned all-conference honors, highlighted by first-teamers Mike Tirri and Nolan Gaige, as Gaige finished the season ranked third in the nation for triples (9). In addition, left-handed pitcher Sean Lucas was chosen in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Cincinnati Reds, marking the highest draft choice from the UAlbany program since 2002, and the eighth player in UAlbany history to be selected.
In 2011, the Great Danes advanced to the America East Championship game for the third straight season. As the fourth seed of the tournament, UAlbany eliminated top-seeded Stony Brook and second-seeded Binghamton before falling to Maine in the championship finale. Dave Kubiak, the 2011 UAlbany Male Athlete of the Year, became the seventh player in the baseball program's history to be chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft when the Tampa Bay Rays took him in the 36th round. Kubiak, a right-handed pitcher, and outfielder Nolan Gaige were named to the America East Baseball All-Conference Second Team, while catcher Josh Nethaway earned all-rookie recognition. In addition, reliever Greg Lutton was named to the all-academic team.
The Great Danes returned to the America East Conference championship game in 2009 after missing the tournament in 2008. At the time, Mueller guided UAlbany to its seventh 20-win season in an eight-year span, as the Great Danes finished second in the regular-season standings. Catcher Ryan Gugel and reliever Sean Gregory earned all-conference first-team accolades, while pitchers Dave Kubiak and Zach Kraham earned spots on the all-conference second team. Kraham also followed Kubiak as an all-rookie team member.
In 2007, the Great Danes secured their first America East Conference tournament championship title and NCAA appearance. Mueller also saw five of his players earn All-America East Conference accolades. UAlbany posted a 29-29 record, including 13-11 in the America East, and as the No. 3 seed captured its first America East tournament championship. UAlbany defeated Binghamton in the tournament final by posting the first-ever 1-0 victory in America East postseason play. The Great Danes made the program's first NCAA appearance as the fourth seed in the Fayetteville, Arkansas Regional.
Mueller led UAlbany to a single-season record 37 victories in 2004, going 37-14, including 14-7 in America East play, setting records for both wins and winning percentage (.725). The Great Danes finished tied for second in the conference and advanced to the America East championship for the first time, earning Mueller America East Coach of the Year honors.
Mueller coached 2004 America East player of the year Dan Schoonmaker, who set the school's single-season standard in RBI with 51. In addition, shortstop Joe Lamb and infielder Derek DeGrazio earned All-America East first-team honors, while relief pitcher Shawn Ryan, who was third in the country with 14 saves, joined DeGrazio on the American Baseball Coaches Association All-Northeast Region first team. DeGrazio was also named to the ECAC second team and Ryan was selected a collegebaseballinsider.com honorable mention All-America.
In addition to mentoring all-conference standouts, Mueller has had six players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft and even more go on to sign professional contracts. Prior to the drafts of Sean Lucas in 2012 and Dave Kubiak in 2011, Ryan Gugel signed a free agency contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, while Sean Gregory played for the Independent League Champions Quebec Capitals. In 2008, first baseman Mike Konstanty was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the 39th round. Catcher Tom Hill, a two-time All-America East Conference first-team selection at catcher, was chosen in the 34th round of the 2007 draft by the Kansas City Royals. Starting pitcher Adam Kroft, who went 8-3 with a 4.08 ERA as a senior, was chosen in the 30th round of the 2004 draft by the San Diego Padres. Kroft followed Mike Grasso, who was chosen in the 11th round by the Atlanta Braves in 2002 and Steve Checksfield, the school's all-time leader in several categories including home runs and RBI, who was selected in the 26th round by the Houston Astros in 2001. Checksfield was the first UAlbany player since 1974 to be drafted. Mueller has also coached other players that have inked free agent professional contracts, including Mark Suchowiecki, who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006 and pitched for their Class A affiliate, the Hudson Valley Renegades.
A volunteer baseball assistant at UAlbany prior to his current appointment, Mueller played professionally from 1994-2000 in the Northeast and Northern Leagues with the Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs, Adirondack Lumberjacks and Marshall (Minn.) Mallards. A 6-foot-5, 245-pound infielder and designated hitter, Mueller accrued a career .286 batting average with 74 home runs and 318 RBI in seven professional seasons. He led the Northeastern League in homers in 1996 and 1997 with 18 and 20, respectively. In 1999, Mueller hit .290 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI, despite missing 30 games due to injury, and helped his team go 20-8 down the stretch to qualify for Northern League playoffs. He earned Most Valuable Player honors of the league's East Championship series when he had the game-winning two-run single in the fifth and deciding game.
In the Northeast League Championship series against Winnipeg, Mueller went 5-for-15 with two homers and seven RBI, including the game-winning grand slam with his team trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 3 of the best-of-five series. The Diamond Dogs went on to win the series in four games and Mueller was named series MVP. Mueller was also a member of the Albany-Colonie squad that won the 1997 Northeast League Championship and was selected MVP of the 2000 Northern League All-Star Game.
A constant influence in the Capital Region, Mueller also coached at the College of Saint Rose in 1993-94 and was a teacher with Mechanicville City Schools, Saratoga BOCES and the Duanesburg School District. He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Eckerd College (Fla.) in 1992 and has a master's degree in secondary education from Saint Rose. Mueller and his wife, Patricia, reside in the Capital Region with their daughter, Marley, and son, Jaxon.
Mueller's Year-By-Year Record
18 seasons - 377-525-5