Kevin Leighton Baseball Camps
Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator
Jimmy Jackson just finished his third year at Fordham University as the Pitching Coach and Recruiting Coordinator.
Jackson helped coach the Rams to its first Atlantic 10 Championship appearance in four seasons in 2014, where the Rams picked up their first tournament win since 2007. Fordham also saw a number of award winners throughout the 2014 campaign, as four players earned All-League honors, marking the first time since 1997 that Fordham had four players honored by the Atlantic 10. The award winners included two All-Atlantic 10 selections (Tim Swatek - First Team; Joseph Runco - Second Team), two All-Rookie Team picks (Mark Donadio and Kirk Haynes, Jr.), and three Rookie of the Week awards (Donadio, Haynes, and Greg Weissert).
Jackson guided the pitching staff to its best strikeout-to-walk ratio since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2014, while having two starting pitchers have had better than a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Individually, five pitchers finished in the top ten in five individual conference categories, while two pitchers were in the top five in two individual conference categories.
Jackson has also brought in another large recruiting class during the 2013-14 school year, which features nine players, led by two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Maine, Ben Greenberg. This follows two other significant recruiting classes, which now accounts for the vast majority of the Rams' roster.
Jackson brought in his first recruiting class for the 2013 season, which included one of them, Charles Galiano, being drafted out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies. By the end of the 2013 campaign, four position players from this recruiting class played in at least 50 games with one, Joey Runco, being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team, while three pitchers, Joseph Serrapica, Jimmy Murphy, and Cody Johnson, saw time as starting pitchers with Brett Kennedy as a primary reliever and one-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week selection. Jackson also saw his pitching staff make strides as a group, lowering its opponent batting average, while posting the best team strikeout-to-walk ratio in over a decade.
During Jackson's first season at Fordham, the Rams finished with a .500 record or better for the fourth straight season in conference play, while ranking in the top half of the league in ERA in league play at 3.41, helped in part by the continued development of starter Joseph Charest (2.73 ERA, 66 IP) and relievers Jeremy Adel (11 APP, 0.44 ERA, 20.2 IP) and Rich Anastasi (11 APP, 1.25 ERA, 21.2 IP).
Prior to Fordham, Jackson spent three years at Siena College, the last two as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. In his years at Siena, the Saints brought in the two largest recruiting classes in the history of the program. When promoted to pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, the team increased their win total by 12 games. The pitching staff also led the conference in ERA in his first season as pitching coach and finished second in the conference in year two.
Jackson's staff lowered its ERA by two full runs each season, and in 2011 posted the best ERA in over 10 years. The Saints made it to the championship game of the MAAC tournament last year. Siena's pitchers also broke three individual season records and two season staff records. Jackson also had pitchers break two freshmen season records.
Before taking over as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, Jackson was the volunteer assistant at Siena for one year. He worked primarily with catchers and outfielders and assisted with the hitters.
In three years at Siena, the Saints had multiple All-Conference and All-Region players, as well as one Freshmen All-American and one All-American.
Prior to Siena, Jackson spent three years as the varsity pitching coach at Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, Maryland. In that time, they had 17 players who advanced to play in college, ten of which were pitchers. Additionally, Jackson delivered private lessons to over 20 players that moved onto the collegiate ranks, including eight who played at the Division I level.
Throughout his coaching tenure, Jackson has now signed and/or coached nine players that have signed MLB contracts.
Originally from Glen Burnie, Maryland, Jackson played two years of independent professional baseball in the Frontier and Atlantic League after a standout collegiate career at Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia. He was an infielder and pitcher at Shepherd, where he became a two-time First Team All-Conference, All-Region and Preseason All-American selection as a pitcher. He also still holds multiple school records at Shepherd.
Jackson currently resides in Garrison, N.Y. with his wife, Brittany.
Joining the Fordham baseball coaching staff for the 2014 season as an assistant coach is Rob DiToma.
In his first season at Rose Hill, DiToma helped coach the Rams to their first Atlantic 10 Championship appearance in four seasons in 2014, where the Rams picked up their first tournament win since 2007. Fordham also saw a number of award winners throughout the 2014 campaign, as four players earned All-League honors, marking the first time since 1997 that Fordham had four players honored by the Atlantic 10.
DiToma, who is responsible for the Rams' running game and infield, saw the Rams improve their running game by 36 stolen bases in 2014, leading the Atlantic 10 with 101 stolen bases. It marked the third time since 2000 that Fordham has reached the century mark in a single season. Nationally, the Rams finished in the top ten in stolen bases and stolen bases per game, while individually, Fordham had three players in the top ten in the conference in stolen bases, led by Joseph Runco, who swiped a league-best 23 bags.
Prior to Fordham, DiToma had a four-year stint at Iona College, serving as the team's hitting instructor and recruiting coordinator.
In four seasons at Iona, DiToma guided Iona's offense to some of its most productive seasons in the last decade. In 2010, the Gaels posted their highest batting average, slugging percentage, and scored the most runs in the last 10 seasons. Four of his hitters from that team received All-MAAC honors including First Teamers Andrew Passerelle (OF), James Beck (DH) and Chris Burke (3B) and Second Teamer Mike Chiaravalloti (1B).
Under the direction of DiToma, the program started the Iona Elite Skills Camp, an instructional camp designed to help high school players and provide these players an excellent opportunity to receive position specific instruction.
In 2012, DiToma helped a trio of players earn All-MAAC recognition, including MAAC Player of the Year Chris Burke, who finished fourth in hitting with a .351 batting, second in RBI with 50 in 53 games played and second in home runs with 11 among MAAC performers. His 72 hits, 44 runs scored, 20 doubles, 127 total bases led the league while his .620 slugging percentage was second and 23 stolen bases ranked fourth. In June of 2012, Burke became the 24th Iona player to be selected in the draft when the San Diego Padres selected him with the 555th pick in the 18th round.
In 2013, DiToma had three more hitters earn All-MAAC accolades, as Matt Kriss (UT) was named First Team All-League, while Joe Torres (OF) and Matt Byrne (DH) were both Second Team All-League.
Prior to Iona, DiToma coached for one season at Siena and one at Temple. At Siena in 2009, he helped mentor eventual two-time MAAC Player of the Year Dan Paolini during his freshman campaign. The Saints finished fourth in the MAAC in slugging (.439) and total bases (748), and third in home runs (54).
DiToma also served as an assistant coach at Temple University during the 2008 season helping the Owls to 28 wins and a berth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. He instructed the infielders and catchers, as the Owls reached the postseason for the first time in seven years.
Before Temple, DiToma's served on the baseball coaching staff at Manhattanville while pursuing his master's degree. He guided the College to the 2007 Skyline Conference Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. DiToma gained additional coaching experience as an assistant in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in the summers of 2006 and 2007, working primarily with the infielders and assisting with recruiting.
A 2005 graduate of Mercy College, DiToma earned his master's degree in physical education from Manhattanville College in 2007. He played four years as the starting second baseman at Mercy as an undergraduate, serving as team captain as a senior. As a junior, he batted .309 and was an All NYCAC selection.
Volunteer Assistant Coach
Matthew Smith joins the Fordham baseball coaching staff as a volunteer coach, after serving in the same capacity at Army last year.
Prior to joining the Army coaching staff, Smith served as instructor at Teels Baseball in Closter, N.J., and worked for Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Network in Secaucus, N.J.
While at the MLB Network Smith was responsible for live game logging. At the Office of the Commissioner, he fell under Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre, and worked with umpires to ensure feedback.
Smith competed for the St. Thomas Aquinas baseball team for three seasons. He began his collegiate career at the University of Scranton before transferring to St. Thomas Aquinas.
During his junior season at St. Thomas Aquinas, Smith was voted all-conference and named team Most Valuable Player after hitting .321. In his final campaign, Smith batted .292 and led the squad with 52 hits and 22 stolen bases.
After earning his bachelor's degree in sports management, Smith competed for the Trinidad Triggers of the Pecos League in 2012 where he hit .305 with 10 home runs, ultimately earning an invite to a Baltimore Orioles tryout.
A 2006 graduate of Don Bosco Preparatory High School in New Jersey, Smith won a Bergen County Championship during his senior season.
Director of Baseball Operations
Tony Mellaci, who served as an assistant coach at Fordham for 19 years, begins his sixth season as Director of Baseball Operations. Over the past 25-plus years, he has directed the infield play and the defense, served as first base coach, and championed Fordham's strong recruiting program, which has brought some of the finest players coming out of high school and junior colleges to Rose Hill, and served as a community service contact with youth programs.
Along with 2005 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year Nick Restaino, Mellaci helped the Rams have a resurgent year in 2005, posting 34 overall wins and 17 conference wins. The 34 wins were the most since the 1997 campaign, while the 17 conference victories were the most by Fordham since joining the Atlantic 10 in 1995-96.
As a member of the Atlantic 10, Mellaci has helped Fordham to the Atlantic 10 Tournament on four occassions, including the 1998 title. Mellaci has also helped coach ten All-Atlantic 10 players, two Players of the Year, and two Rookies of the Year.
Among the team accomplishments in Mellaci's tenure, Fordham has had eight 30-win seasons, and captured seven league titles (3 - MAAC, 3 - Patriot League, 1 - Atlantic 10).
Prior to Fordham, Mellaci's first significant stop was at Westchester Community College where he was the head coach for five years. His club won four Mid-Hudson Conference Championships, in the process notching 106 wins against just 43 losses for a better than .700 winning percentage. This stretch was highlighted by a 30-4 record in 1981, when the diminutive general led his troops to a National Junior College World Series appearance.
Mellaci moved to Iona College following the 1983 season and not coincidentally, the program turned around. He helped the Gaels to two MAAC titles in the mid-1980's, including an ECAC playoff bid in 1985. Mellaci served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the New Rochelle, NY school for four years before joining Fordham's staff in a similar role in 1987.
Mellaci graduated from Mercy College in 1981. He currently resides in Oradell, New Jersey with his wife, Allison, and sons, Tyler and Jordan.
*Other qualified high school and college coaches along with current college players may work our camps.