Baseball Promotes Martinez & Kilgo, Welcomes Back Jackson

RIO GRANDE VALLEY – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) baseball head coach Derek Matlock announced on Monday the promotions of Robert Martinez two top assistant coaches and recruiting coordinators Kyle Kilgo two full-time assistant coaches. Additionally, Matlock announced the return of Ryan Jacksonwho pitched for the Vaqueros from 2015-19, as the new volunteer assistant.

Robert Martinez

Martinez is in his fourth season with UTRGV after initially joining the program during the summer of 2019 following three seasons as the head coach at Howard College.

During his time at UTRGV, Martinez has served as the recruiting coordinator, bringing in All-WAC honorees such as Mississippi State transfer Brandon Pimentelwho hit .377/.427/.619 last year, and Houston transferred Brett Cainwho hit .370/.450/.614.

On the field, Martinez has served as the hitting coach, helping UTRGV to hit .290/.376/.454 last year. UTRGV ranked in the top 100 in the NCAA in six offensive categories, including hits (55th563), batting average (61stSt), slugging percentage (87th), triples (87th14), home runs (90th63), and runs scored (92n.d, 379). The 63 home runs are the third-highest single-season total in program history. UTRGV also hit 101 doubles, the fifth-highest single-season total in program history.

“I think the players are a definite reflection of the recruiting coordinator,” UTRGV head coach Derek Matlock said. “When you have great players, the recruiting coordinator is the one responsible for them and he’s done an outstanding job. What’s nice about Rob is he’s also a great coach on the field. He can coach anyone from catchers to pitchers and more. He’s a great hitting coach too.”

In 2021, Martinez’s first full recruiting class shined, helping UTRGV to the WAC Tournament Championship Series for the first time in program history. UTRGV finished with a 32-26 record, including a program record 20 WAC wins (20-15) and received votes in two National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) polls (Feb. 22 and March 8). UTRGV took two out of three from Baylor, marking the program’s first series victory over a Big 12 opponent since 2000 while earning three wins against Power 5 competition (two vs. Baylor and one at Washington).

UTRGV ranked among the WAC and NCAA leaders in multiple categories in 2021, scoring a WAC-high 371 runs, the 45th-best total in the NCAA, a WAC-leading average of 6.4 per game, the 82ndn.d best in the NCAA. UTRGV hit 50 home runs, the sixth-highest single-season total in program history, ranking second in the WAC, and 97th in the NCAA, and 107 doubles, the fourth-highest single-season total in program history, ranking second in the WAC and 41St in the NCAA, en route to a WAC-best .442 slugging percentage, the 77th-best in the NCAA. UTRGV hit .284, ranking second in the WAC and 61stSt in the NCAA, while posting a .377 on-base percentage, which ranked second in the WAC and 77th in the NCAA.

“Being promoted is awesome, but I don’t think about it in terms of which assistant coach I am,” Martinez said. “I’m going to work just as hard no matter my position. I’m just trying to recruit the best players I can and help this team maximize its potential. What does mean the world to me is that Coach Matlock trusts me enough to give me this opportunity. It’s always exciting to have people believe in you and I’m looking forward to getting out there with our student-athletes again.”

Martinez, who has 15 years of coaching experience, compiled a 103-68 (.602) record as the head coach at Howard, winning at least 32 games and advancing to the NJCAA Regionals every year.

Martinez became the head coach after serving as an assistant coach in 2015, when the team went 43-15. That was the start of Martinez’s second stint at Howard, after previously serving as an assistant from 2011-13, winning two Western Junior College Athletic Conference Championships while going 128-48 (.727).

In between stints at Howard, Martinez served as the head coach at El Paso Community College (EPCC), where he developed Eudor Garcia and Jeremy Rivera in 2014. Garcia was named NJCAA National Player of the Year and selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the New York Mets. Rivera was a 17th round pick selection of the Boston Red Sox.

Martinez worked at EPCC twice as well, initially starting there in 2009 as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. He also served as the bench coach for the El Paso Diablos of the American Association in 2010.

Martinez began his career as an assistant coach at East Central Community College, helping the team to win a conference championship in 2007.

While in the junior college ranks, Martinez developed about 100 NCAA Division I student-athletes.

Originally from El Paso, Martinez played collegiately at Howard, earning First Team All-American honors and the Rawlings Big Stick award for the Southwest District by hitting .448 with seven home runs, 17 doubles and 70 RBI in 2004. Martinez finished his playing career in 2006 at the University of West Alabama, where he was twice named First Team All-Conference. Martinez earned his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 2008.

In addition to coaching collegiately, Martinez served as the head baseball coach and physical education instructor at Eastwood High School in 2015. Martinez played at Eastwood, earning All-State honors in 2002 and 2003.

Kyle Kilgo

Kilgo is in his fourth season with UTRGV after initially joining the program during the summer of 2019 following three seasons as an assistant coach at Hill College.

During his time at UTRGV, Kilgo has worked with the hitters and outfielders, coached first base, and run UTRGV’s camps and clinics.

“Kyle’s a guy that’s worked in the business for a long time,” Matlock said. “He took a big leap of faith leaving junior college to be a volunteer here to get into Division I baseball. He’s a really hard worker and does whatever it takes to win. He’s an outstanding hitting coach. Kyle can really run the offense with a lot of aggression. He’s a players’ coach and can coach anyone on the field. He has great recruiting ties and has signed a lot of great players in his career.”

While at Hill, Kilgo helped six players get drafted, 31 elevate to the Division I level, and 25 more move on to play for four-year programs. His responsibilities included working with the position players and serving as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator.

Kilgo went to Hill College after spending three years at the University of Dallas, where he helped create one of the most efficient offenses in program history, averaging 8.4 runs per game and 1.3 hits per run while ranking second in the nation in stolen bases.

“I’m excited to move up in a great program and at a great institution,” Kilgo said. “UTRGV has been like a family to me, from the baseball staff to the entire athletic department and university. I’m excited to see where we go with this season and I’m excited about where the program, institution and region are headed in the future.”

Kilgo played collegiately at Kansas, for whom he was a third baseman and an outfielder, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics. Kilgo played his first two seasons at McLennan Community College, for whom he was a second team all-conference third baseman. Kilgo hit a .385 batting average as a sophomore, leading the league with 27 doubles while committing just four errors.

“Both Rob and Kyle come from junior college coaching backgrounds,” Matlock said. “They started at a level that’s really hard and competitive and paid their dues. These guys have had to grind their entire careers and have a lot of buy-in to our blue-collar culture.”

Ryan Jackson
Jackson returns to UTRGV after one season as an assistant coach at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). He also has collegiate coaching experience as a volunteer assistant at Texas Lutheran University (TLU) in 2020.

In his new role, Jackson will work with the pitchers while running camps and clinics.

At both TAMIU and TLU, Jackson oversaw the pitching staff and developed the team’s throwing programs. While at TLU, he also served as pitching coach for Naturals Baseball Academy with the U13 and U17 teams.

From 2017-19, Jackson was an Assistant Manager/Trainer for Ochoa’s Baseball Academy, as well as a volunteer coach for his high school alma mater, Nikki Rowe.

“Ryan is a high-character, high-quality young man,” Matlock said. “When we won the WAC Championship in 2019, he was a big part of it. Ryan’s a Valley native who believes in the Vaqueros. That’s important on your coaching staff to have someone that has deep pride in your school and really cares about it. He’s an outstanding pitching coach. He’s going to come in and assist with the pitchers. I’m really excited about having more eyes on the pitching staff. I’m so fired up to have him back home.”

After graduating from UTRGV in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a minor in Business Management, Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Rays organization, dominating for the Gulf Coast Rays (Rookie), Princeton Rays (Rookie Advanced), Hudson Valley Renegades ( Short-Season A) and Port Charlotte Stone Crabs (Advanced A) by recording four saves with a 0.64 ERA. In 16 relief appearances, Jackson pitched 28.0 innings, striking out 34 while allowing just 17 hits and three walks.

After the season, Jackson was assigned to Bowing Green, which at the time was Class A, but after the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season, Jackson was released prior to the start of spring training in 2021.

Jackson was dominant during his final two seasons at UTRGV, finishing with 15 career saves, the second-highest total in program history.

As a senior in 2019, Jackson went 5-4 with eight saves and a 1.74 ERA. In 28 games (one start), he pitched 46.2 innings, striking out 61 while allowing just 46 hits and 13 walks en route to All-WAC First Team Reliever honors. He posted eight saves, the third-highest single-season total in program history and ranked 78th in the NCAA and third in the WAC in pitching appearances (28), and 80th in the NCAA and first in the WAC in saves (8) while helping UTRGV to the WAC Championship.

“I’m happy and excited to be back,” Jackson said. “Over the last two years I had the opportunity to work with pitchers on two different staffs and make the super regionals with TLU. I’m really glad to be back home both in the Valley and at UTRGV and to be working with Coach Matlock again . We have an incredible staff here with Rob and Kyle and I just can’t wait to get started.”

Originally from McAllen, Jackson was All-Valley Freshman of the Year in 2010 at Nikki Rowe, and in his senior year, earned All-Valley Pitcher of the Year, Team MVP, Second Team All-Valley Third Baseman, and Second Team All- Valley Pitcher honors, helping lead his team to District and Bi-District Championships before finishing as Area Finalists.

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