Angel Santiago came to Florida State in 2008 after spending the previous five years at UNLV working alongside Seminole head coach Lonni Alameda. In three seasons of work at FSU, he has worked diligently with each student-athlete to help improve their overall hitting mechanics, with the proof lying in the numbers.
One of Santiago's best feats as a hitting coach came in the 2011 season with his individual work with then-senior Jen Lapicki. Using an array of batting techniques to help improve her plate discipline and approach, Santiago helped guide Lapicki to a near 100-point improvement in her batting average, going from .259 in 2010 to becoming the team's leader at .343 in 2011. Lapicki ended up garnering All-ACC Team honors.
Not only is Santiago known as an excellent in-game coach with an analytical mind, he has also been extremely successful in the team's recruiting efforts. Year after year he helps bring in some of the nation's best talent by developing tremendous rapport with players, families, high school coaches and club ball coaches in a quest to show all that the Florida State softball program has to offer to each prospective student-athlete. Santiago is a diligent recruiter who works tirelessly to find the right pieces to the FSU softball program, which showed once again with the incoming 2011 recruiting class.
Through Santiago's hard work, FSU looks forward to the services of three renowned players in the upcoming 2011 season, including highly-touted pitcher Lacey Waldrop (Colonial Heights, Va.), Bailey Schinella (Valrico, Fla.) and Erika Leonard (Cincinnati, Ohio). All three incoming freshmen give the Seminoles the potential to have another standout season while keeping the program in the right direction.
Since Santiago has arrived in Tallahassee, two of FSU's squads (2010 and 2011) have posted some of the best team batting averages within the last six years. Santiago was also instrumental in Tiffani Brown's 10-point jump in 2011 (.328 to .338), as well as Kristie McConn's large improvement (.263 to .306). Santiago also worked tirelessly with fifth-year senior Robin Ahrberg, who enjoyed her best season yet under his guidance by hitting .318 in 2011. Not coincidentally, Ahrberg's best two seasons offensively came with Santiago as hitting coach in 2010 and 2011.
In three seasons, Santiago's student-athletes have fully absorbed his teaching principles. Another aspect that the FSU offense has shown improvement in is plate selectivity. In the three seasons prior to Santiago's arrival (2006-08), the Seminoles averaged over five strikeouts per game. In every contest since (2009-11), the Seminoles have cut down their K average to just over four per game.
Santiago is a former professional baseball player, whose knowledge obtained from the diamond allows him to be effective in his emphasis on working with all hitters and outfielders. His players often rave of his ability to help them understand everything that entails becoming a well-round offensive player, citing their own gradual improvement through the course of their careers. Another example is one of FSU's all-time greats, Carly Wynn, who in just two seasons under Santiago transformed herself into an All-American caliber player. Wynn went from batting .337 in 2009 to .378 in 2010, and raised her totals in several categories including doubles (11 to 18), triples (5 to 8), slugging percentage (.530 to .643) and on-base percentage (.409 to .496) in nearly the same amount of games played.
As a team, the 2010 Seminoles accomplished a lot of statistical feats. Not only did FSU get off to its best start since 1993 by starting the year 20-2, but the team capped off the year with high marks in a bevy of categories. The Seminoles' .297 batting average was the best since 2003 and the team's 212 total walks were the most since the 2004 season, just to name a few. The 'Noles also posted just 226 strikeouts; the fewest since the 1998 campaign.
In 2005, the Rebels made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years and finished 44-19. The 44 wins were the third-most in the program's history. Since 2005, the Rebels hit no less than 43 home runs, which included a program-best 50 in 2005. In all, Santiago helped coach one NFCA All-America selection, five NFCA All-West Region members and 14 Mountain West All-Conference honorees.
Santiago is from Chicago Heights, Ill., where he spent four years as a physical education and strength coach at baseball powerhouse Homewood-Flossmoor High School. In addition, he offered private baseball and softball instruction through the Diamond Sports Academy in Mokena, Ill.
A 1997 graduate of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Santiago spent four seasons playing professional baseball in independent leagues. He hit .305 in his first professional season, playing with the Dubois County Dragons (Huntingburg, Ind.) of the Heartland Independent Professional League. The following year, Santiago led the league in batting average, hitting .374 for the Will County Cheetahs (Romeoville, IL.) in 1997.
Following his professional career he landed his first coaching job, a two-year stint with the baseball team at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL.
A Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Santiago also holds certificates from USA Weightlifting and USA Track & Field.