Neil Walton is in his second season as the Titans Volunteer Assistant and third overall year on staff at Cal State Fullerton. Walton comes to Fullerton after spending four years at UC Santa Barbara from 2014-2017. Prior to his time at UCSB, Walton was a Graduate Manager for Rick Vanderhook’s staff in 2013.
Walton assists with the Titans offense and takes the lead with Fullerton infielders and Titan Baseball Camps. In his first year back, Walton helped lead the Titans to a Big West Conference Championship as well as the Stanford Regional Championship and the hosting of Cal State Fullerton’s 14th Super Regional. After a slow start that saw the Titans with a 2-8 record, Walton mentored an infield that fielded .981 in conference and saw its first and secondbasemen claim All Conference Awards. These awards including Hank Loforte (2B) who bounced back to finish the season hitting .339. The 2018 Titans had 7 players selected in the MLB draft, which makes 52 players that Walton has coached in college that have been selected, including 7 players that have made it to the big leagues.
In Walton’s time at Big West Conference member, UC Santa Barbara, he helped lead them to a 141-86-3 overall record, including a trip to the College World Series in 2016. As a player and coach, Walton has been a part of teams that have made seven Regionals, six Super Regionals, and three College World Series.
While at UC Santa Barbara, Walton ran the Gaucho offense from 2015-17 and was in charge of position player development as well as taking a key role with recruiting. During the Gauchos' 2016 run to the CWS, the team set a new program record for wins against Division I opponents with a 43-20-1 record. UCSB sported five players that were picked in the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft, six All-Big West players, and made jumps in home runs (32, +15) and stolen bases (77, +13) with a group that returned only two players that had over 100 at-bats in 2015.
Walton also helped put UCSB on the recruiting map. Each recruiting class during Walton's tenure was nationally ranked, including the 2016 class which was ranked No. 9 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. This marked the first top-10 class in program history and was tops in the state of California for 2016.
In the 2015 season, Walton watched over a UCSB group that returned to the NCAA tournament for the second time in the last three years, but also became the first UCSB squad in program history to host a regional.
The 2015 group finished the year with a 40-17-1 record and led the Big West conference on both sides of the ball by hitting .289 and fielding at a .976 clip. Following in the footsteps of 2014 All-American Joey Epperson, Cameron Newell shared the Big West Field Player of the Year Award with Cal State Fullerton's very own David Olmedo-Barrera, becoming UCSB's first conference Player of the Year since 1991. Newell joined nine of his other teammates as 2015 All-Conference selections, including position players Campbell Wear, Peter Maris, Robby Nesovic, Andrew Calica, and Luke Swenson.
At the end of the 2015 season, the Gauchos saw a program-record 10 of their players selected in the MLB draft. That number was second in the country only to Oklahoma's 11. Shortly after the draft, infielder Peter Maris signed as a free agent with the Rays which put the number to 11 players with the opportunity to play professionally in 2015.
In Walton's first season with the Gauchos, UCSB was ranked among the top-10 nationally for the first time since 1986. Four players off the 2014 team were selected in the MLB draft including Golden Spikes Award nominee Joey Epperson. The Gauchos finished the season with a 34-17 record and five All-Conference selections. The incoming 2015 recruiting class also ranked No. 32 in the nation.
In the summer before Walton arrived in Santa Barbara, he served as pitching coach/interim field manager for the Terre Haute Rex Baseball Club in the Prospect Summer Collegiate League.
Prior to his time at UCSB, Walton spent time as a manager at Cal State Fullerton assisting head coach Rick Vanderhook with on field and off field duties during his second season as head coach. That 2013 Titan team went 51-10 on its way to winning the Big West and reaching the NCAA tournament for the 21st consecutive season. Seventeen players went on to become draft picks off that team, including first round selections Outfielder/Pitcher Michael Lorenzen, infielder Matt Chapman, second rounder Thomas Eshelman, and third rounder JD Davis. The Titan team also produced six All-Americans, and 10+ All-Conference selections including Conference Defensive Player of the Year and shortstop Richie Pedroza.
As a player, Walton was a three-year standout for the Titans. A slick-fielding shortstop, he featured in 107 games over three years at Cal State Fullerton. Walton was fortunate to play for future head coaches in George Horton, Vanderhook, Dave Serrano, and Jason Gill. The Titans were ranked No. 1 in the country at some point of the season in all three of his years, and they won the National Championship during his sophomore stint. Following his junior year, Walton was part of a NCAA-record group of 14 Titans that were selected in the 2005 MLB draft.
After Fullerton, Walton was drafted by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 16th round of the 2005 MLB First Year Player Draft. He had earlier been drafted by the San Francisco Giants out of high school in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft, but attended Fullerton in lieu of signing. Walton spent four years in the Tampa Bay organization, rising as high as AA in 2008.
Walton graduated from Cal State Fullerton with an undergraduate degree in Communications and minor in Psychology(2010). Once finished playing, Walton earned his masters in kinesiology with an emphasis in sports psychology under Prof. Ken Ravizza at Cal State Fullerton(2013).