KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island baseball head coach Jim Foster has announced the hiring of Raphael Cerrato and Chris Smith. Cerrato – who previously served as a volunteer assistant under former URI head coach Frank Leoni – returns to Kingston as a full time assistant while Smith takes over as the Rams’ volunteer assistant.
Cerrato (Rhode Island ’94) spent the past five seasons as the head coach at New Haven, where he led the Chargers to a 131-97 (.575) record during that span.
“We are really excited to add someone with Coach Cerrato’s coaching experience to our staff,” said Foster. “He is one of the best recruiters in our region and I know he will do a great job with our hitters. I have complete confidence in his ability to help our baseball program get to the next level.”
Cerrato’s tenure at New Haven followed a five-year stint as an assistant coach at Brown University. There, he served as the Bears’ hitting, outfield and infield instructor and coordinated student-athlete recruitment.
Before his time at Brown, Cerrato spent three years as the top assistant at Massachusetts, coordinating recruiting and the organization of UMass’ youth clinics.
Cerrato has also managed the Rhode Island Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), in addition to spending time as an assistant coach with the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of the Northeastern Collegiate Baseball League.
An Enfield, Conn. native and 1994 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Cerrato was a member of the Rhody baseball team from 1989-1993, earning All-Conference honors in 1992 and captaining the Rams in 1993.
Smith (New Haven ’09, ’11) comes to Rhode Island after spending the past season as an assistant at New Haven. There, he helped lead the Chargers’ pitching staff to the nation’s 17th-best team ERA (2.92) in 2011.
“Coach Smith is, in my opinion, one of the most talented young pitching coaches around,” said Foster. “He is going to be a tremendous help with our pitching staff.”
As New Haven’s assistant pitching coach, Smith spent the past year organizing the pitchers’ throwing schedules and lifting/conditioning programs in addition to assisting with recruiting and winter clinics.
Prior to transitioning into his role as assistant coach, Smith was a five-year member and two-time captain of the New Haven baseball team. He posted the team’s best ERA in both 2009 (2.00) and 2010 (2.96) and collected 13 wins in two years as a starter.
An All-Conference selection, Smith helped guide the club to an appearance in the NCAA East Region Championship his senior season.
The Shelton, Conn. native earned his undergraduate degree in Management of Sports Industries in 2009, before obtaining his MBA in 2011. Both degrees came from New Haven.