TAMPA - University of South Florida baseball coach Lelo Prado entered the weekend expecting to name a new hitting coach by the middle of the week.
However, former USF player Chris Heintz was such a good candidate, Prado announced his hiring Sunday afternoon.
"We had a number of good candidates," Prado said. "But Chris Heintz stood out above them all."
Heintz replaces Bryant Ward, who left last week to become hitting coach at Loyola Marymount in California after four years on Prado's staff at USF.
Heintz spent the past two seasons as a coach in the Minnesota Twins organization, most recently serving as manager of the Twins' Gulf Coast League affiliate.
Heintz played at USF from 1993-96, a stretch that included three NCAA regional appearances and with Heintz earning All-American honors as a senior in 1996 when he hit .400 with 16 home runs and 95 RBIs. Heintz finished the season with a single-season school record 106 hits.
"Our players will benefit from his experience in professional baseball both as a player and a coach," Prado said. "And most importantly, he is an alumnus of the program. He is passionate about USF baseball."
After graduating from USF, Heintz spent 13 years playing professionally, including stints in the majors with Minnesota in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He retired as a player in 2008 and served as manager of Minnesota's Midwest League affiliate in Beloit, Wis., last season.
"I am very excited about coming back to USF," Heintz said in a prepared statement. "I know there is a foundation in place here to win championships."
USF finished 26-32 last season - Prado's first losing season since taking over the program in 2006 - and finished with a team batting average of .290, eighth in the Big East.