Lelo Prado has been at the helm of the Louisville Cardinals for a decade, and he sits on the cusp of becoming the winningest coach in Cardinal history. His list of accomplishments at the University of Louisville put him in a category all his own:
- Guided the team to its first postseason appearance in school history in 2002, advancing to the NCAA Regional in Atlanta, Georgia
- Lead the team to a single season record 39 wins in 2002, as well as an all-time best conference record of 21-9, placing second.
- He is the only coach in Louisville baseball history to record more than two 30-win seasons, tallying six (31 in '98, 37 in '99, 32 in 2001, 39 in '02, 34 in `03 and 32 in `05.)
- His career win total stands at 289 while at U of L, the only Cardinal coach to join legendary Dr. John Heldman Jr.(309) in the 250 win club.
- Named 2002 Conference USA Coach of the Year and 2002 USA Baseball Coach of the Year.
- Guided the 2002 USA Baseball National Team as its Head Coach, the first coach in C-USA history to do so. Lead the collegiate amateur squad to a 23-7 record, and a silver medal at the first ever FISU World University Baseball Championships in Messina, Italy. The team also captured the gold medal at the Haarlem Baseball Week in Haarlem, The Netherlands, and defeated the Japanese Collegiate All-Stars three games to two, in the 31st annual USA/Japan Collegiate Championship Series.
His first eight seasons produced the highest win total to begin a tenure in school history, he picked up his 400th career win during the 2000 season, and notched number 500 in 2003.
In 2000, he was one of three assistant coaches on the under-22 USA National Team, which posted an all-time best 27-3-1 record and featured college stars like Mark Teixeira, Mark Prior, Xavier Nady and fellow C-USA member Jake Gautreau. Prado served on the USA Baseball selection committee from 1995-1998 and helped select the `96 Olympic bronze medal winning squad.
It will be under Prado's leadership that the Cardinal Nine opened Jim Patterson Stadium last season and make the jump to the BIG EAST in 2006.
When he was hired in June of 1995, Prado's credentials to lead a baseball team were clear, having won NCAA Division II baseball national championships in 1992 and 1993 with the University of Tampa. He averaged nearly 40 wins a season in his seven years at Tampa.
In his seven seasons at Tampa, Prado compiled a 278-124-1 record, the winningest record in Tampa history. His .691 winning percentage ranks among the top ten in Division II history. In addition to the two national championships, his teams also reached the College World Series in 1990, finishing third, and were an NCAA South Region finalist in each of his other four seasons as head coach (1989, 1991, 1994, 1995).
Some of the most significant changes Prado made with the Cards were off the field. He created three fund-raising events including a golf scramble for baseball alumni and what is now the annual Leadoff Banquet. Alex Rodriguez, Don Mattingly, Tommy Lasorda, Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Scott Rolen and three-time 20-game winner Tommy John have been keynote speakers in previous years at the banquet.
"Our expectations are always going to be high," said Prado. "We want to have a team who will compete for a Conference championship every year."
The Cardinals are one of three teams in C-USA that has advanced to the C-USA Tournament in each of its nine years joining Southern Miss and Tulane.
"Building a successful program is a process that takes a lot of time and effort. Here at Louisville we have placed the foundation for success and we are prepared to approach the next level," added Prado.
He has twice been named the American Baseball Coaches Association Division II National Coach of the Year (1992, 1993), was a three-time South Region Coach of the Year (1990, 1992, 1993) and was honored twice as the Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year (1989, 1993).
In the summer of 1995, he was elected to the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame and is a member of the USA Baseball Selection Committee, which selects the Olympic Baseball team. He was recently named coach of the Sunshine State Conference Silver Anniversary Team.
Prado coached 17 first or second team All-America selections at Tampa, including national player of the year Sam Militello in 1990, two Academic All-Americans, 43 All-South Region picks and 32 All-Sunshine State Conference Selections.
During his tenure at Tampa, seven Spartans were drafted by major league clubs, nine of whom played pro ball and four have reached the major leagues, including Tino Martinez (Yankees), Jeff Carter (Chicago White Sox), Ozzie Timmons (Chicago Cubs) and Militello (Yankees).
The 1999 Cardinals featured two GTE Academic All-Americans: first baseman Doug Lorenz and shortstop Key Voshell. In 2002 sophomore outfielder Mark Jurich earned All-American honors, the first Cardinal since Dan Kopriva in 1992 to do so. The last seven years have placed 15 players (James McAuley, Key Voshell, Brian Bentley, Sean Green, Curtis Sapp, Bill Gatti Jr., Adam Haley, Grant Williams, Josh Bolen, Carlos Fernandez, Ron Braun, Mark Jurich, Scott Barber and J.T. LaFountain.) and four letter-of-intent signees in the pro ranks.
Prado served as Assistant Athletic Director at Tampa, focusing on fund raising and community support coordination. Prado has also worked with the Nicaraguan National Baseball Team.
After playing two seasons at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, he completed his college career at the University of Tampa in 1985, where he earned a bachelors degree in adult fitness. His jersey number(#1) has been retired and hangs on the outfield wall at UT.
He was an assistant coach at Hillsborough one year (1985) before accepting a similar position at Tampa, where he worked as an assistant for three seasons (1986-88) prior to his advancement as the Spartans' head coach. His first coaching experience was leading the District VI All-Stars to the 1982 Big League World Series.
As a sophomore in high school, he was the catcher on Tampa Catholic's state championship team in 1979. During his senior campaign in 1981 he batted .504 on his way to All-Hillsborough County honors.
Prado and his wife, Pam, have three sons, Jason, Tyler and Zach.
Year Record Postseason
1989 37-18-1 South Region Finalist
1990 45-14 3rd NCAA Division II World Series
1991 34-17 South Region Finalist
1992 42-19 NCAA National Champion
1993 43-21 NCAA National Champion
1994 36-18 South Region Finalist
1995 41-17 South Region Finalist
1996 18-36 None
1997 23-32 None
1998 31-24 None
1999 37-19 None
2000 17-37-1 None
2001 32-29 None
2002 39-18 NCAA Regional
2003 34-23 None
2004 26-30 None
2005 32-24 None
Total(17 years) 567-397-2
1989 Sunshine State Conf. Coach of the Year
1990 South Region Coach of the Year
1990 Sunshine State Conf. Coach of the Year
1992 South Region Coach of the Year
1992 ABCA National Coach of the Year (DII)
1993 ABCA National Coach of the Year (DII)
1993 South Region Coach of the Year
1995 Sunshine State Conf. Athletic Hall of Fame Induction
1995 USA Baseball Selection Committee
1996 USA Baseball Olympic Team Selection Committee Member
1997 USA Baseball Selection Committee
1998 USA Baseball Selection Committee
2000 Assistant Coach on USA Baseball National Team
2002 Conference USA Coach of the Year
2002 Head Coach USA Baseball National Team
Players in the Major Leagues
Tino Martinez New York Yankees
Jeff Carter Chicago White Sox
Ozzie Timmons Cincinnati Reds
Sam Militello New York Yankees