Willie Collazo

Wille Collazo was hired as FIU Baseball's pitching coach in August of 2019 after a successful career as a professional player and coach.

"His experience as both a player and professional coach make him one of the most decorated pitching coaches in all of college baseball," said Coach Mervyl Melendez after Collazo's initial hire.

A graduate of FIU, Willie played for the Golden Panthers from 1999-2001. and left the program as one of its most decorated pitchers ever. In his two seasons as a student-athlete, Collazo won 20 games, including 13 in the 2001 campaign that saw the Golden Panthers reach the program's first NCAA Super Regional. After that season, the Atlanta Braves selected him in the tenth round of the MLB Draft. At the conclusion of his playing career at FIU, the lefty ranked in the Top 10 in school history in most pitching categories.

Willie's success as a player continued in the pro ranks, where he tallied over 1,300 professional innings pitched for five MLB organizations and various international clubs. During this time, Collazo garnered three minor league all-star game selections and pitched for his native Puerto Rico in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic, alongside stars such as Carlos Delgado, Ivan Rodriguez, Yadier Molina and more.

In his playing career, the seminal moment came on September 5, 2007, when Collazo became the eighth former Panther to make his MLB debut, pitching a scoreless 1.2 innings for the New York Mets against the Cincinnati Reds.

Following a thirteen-year playing career, Collazo was named player-coach for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays in 2013. That started a successful five-year run as a pitching coach in the Blue Jays' organization. He helped mentor and develop dozens of the club's pitchers, including twenty-three who would eventually play in the Major Leagues for the Blue Jays.

Additionally, Collazo served as a pitching coach in the Venezuelan Winter League for two seasons. In 2014 his Aguilas del Zulia led the league in ERA and WHIP. In 2015 he helped the Tigres de Aragua win the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League World Series.

Willie's first season at the helm of the FIU pitching staff (2019-20) proved Coach Melendez's belief in him at the time of his hiring was warranted. Under Collazo, the FIU staff improved its team earned run average by almost a full run and finished with a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Additionally, the staff held opposing batters to a .252 batting average against thirty points lower than the previous season.