SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Former Cal State Fullerton standout infielder Neil Walton has been hired as a volunteer assistant coach by the Gauchos, it was announced by head coach Andrew Checketts today.
"Neil brings a level of experience to the program that is very hard to find and that we value very much," said Checketts. "From reaching the College World Series at Fullerton to plying his trade in the pros, there is a lot that Neil can teach our young players."
With the Gauchos, Walton will be responsible for coaching first base, supervising the team's outfielders, assisting with the offense, and helping coordinate the Gaucho Baseball Academy.
Walton most recently served as the interim manager/assistant coach for the Terre Haute Rex Baseball Club in the Prospect League. There, he was tasked with running the pitching staff and managed 20 games after the former skipper took an NCAA recruiting job.
In the 2012-13 school year, Walton served as a student manager at his alma mater. Serving under head coach Rick Vanderhook, Walton assisted with coaching duties for a Cal State Fullerton team that went 51-10 to win the Big West and reached the NCAA tournament for the 21st consecutive season.
While a manager with the baseball team, Walton completed his masters degree in kinesiology, graduating in May 2013.
As a player, Walton was a three-year standout for the Titans. A slick-fielding shortstop, he featured in 107 games over three years at Cal State Fullerton. The Titans were ranked No. 1 in all three of his years in the Orange County, and they won the national championship in his sophomore season of 2004.
Following his junior season, Walton was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 16th round of the 2005 MLB First Year Player Draft. He had earlier been drafted by the San Francisco Giants out of high school in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft, but attended Fullerton in lieu of signing.
Walton spent four years in the Tampa Bay organization, rising as high as AA in 2008, where he hit a career best .253 for the Montgomery Biscuits.
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