Former Gator All-American, JU assistant Brad Wilkerson takes job as Yankees hitting coach

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Brad Wilkerson helped JU win the 2021 ASUN baseball title as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
Brad Wilkerson helped JU win the 2021 ASUN baseball title as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

University of Florida All-American and Jacksonville University assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Brad Wilkerson is back in the Big Leagues.

Wilkerson has been hired by the New York Yankees as an assistant hitting coach, replacing Hensley Meulens, who went to Colorado to be the Rockies' hitting coach. He will work out of the dugout.

“It’s an honor to even be considered for this opportunity, now it’s starting to sink in a little bit,” Wilkerson told the New York media on Monday during a Zoom call. “I’m just honored to be a part of this organization. It speaks for itself.”

Wilkerson comes to an offense led by Aaron Judge, who had 62 homers and 131 RBI last season. The Yankees led the Majors with 254 home runs, were second in runs scored (807), fourth in slugging (.426), fifth in on-base percentage (.325) and fourth in OPS (.751).

“The opportunity that I have in front of me to get back to the big leagues and work with these guys and have every resource in the world to try to win, it was just very intriguing to me,” Wilkerson said. “It was a no-brainer.”

And of the opportunity to work with baseball's most feared slugger in Judge, Wilkerson quipped, "I don’t think I’m going to be messing with Aaron Judge very much."

Wilkerson, 45, was a three-time first-team All-American for Florida from 1996-1998, leading the Gators to the College World Series twice. As a junior in 1998 he became the first player in college history to hit 20 home runs, steal 20 bases, and win 10 games as a pitcher in the same year.

He still holds UF career records in batting average (.381), slugging (.714) and on-base percentage (.531). Wilkerson later played on the U.S. team that upset Cuba in 2000 for the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics.

Wilkerson was drafted by Montreal in the first round, the 33rd overall selection, in the 1998 Major League draft. After four years in the minors he made the Expos roster and was the 2002 runnerup in the NL rookie of the year voting, hitting 20 homers with 59 RBI and a .266 average.

Brad Wilkerson signs autographs for Montreal Expos fans on Sept. 29, 2004, in the team's final home game before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals.
Brad Wilkerson signs autographs for Montreal Expos fans on Sept. 29, 2004, in the team's final home game before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals.

Wilkerson played the outfield and first base in the Majors. His best season was with Montreal in 2004 when he hit 32 homers, 39 doubles, drove in 67 and batted .255.

Wilkerson also played for the Washington Nationals after Montreal moved there, and had turns with Texas, Toronto and Seattle. He hit 20 homers in 2007 for the Rangers.

Wilkerson finished his eight-year pro career with 122 homers, 399 RBI and a .247 average.

Wilkerson has coached at JU for the last two seasons and was part of the 2021 ASUN championship and NCAA tournament team. Prior to coming to Jacksonville, he was the baseball coach at King's Academy in West Palm Beach from 2015-2020 and was on the staff for USA Baseball.

"Brad Wilkerson has done a great job of representing Jacksonville University and our baseball program," said JU coach Chris Hayes in a statement. "He and his family have embraced the Dolphin family from the beginning. The knowledge, effort and dedication he poured into the development our student-athletes and the recruitment of future Dolphins will benefit our program today and in future years.

"Brad has been a huge part of building our program into a consistent force in the ASUN and nationally. We are thankful for Brad's time with us and excited for his next opportunity with the Yankees."

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Back to The Show: JU assistant Brad Wilkerson hired as Yankees hitting coach