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Baseball U New Jersey Staff

John Wells - CEO / Founder of Baseball U     Email: [email protected]

John founded Baseball U in the winter of 2006. Since that time 128 Baseball U Alumni have been drafted that have played for Baseball U and over 750+ players have went on to further their education in college. What started out as one team in 2007 has now grown to over 60 teams in 4 different northeast states.

Most recently in 2020 John became an assistant coach for Montclair State where the team is off to an 8-4 start prior to the season being put on hold due the the Covid-19 virus. In 2019 John joined the staff at Stockton Univeristy where he help lead the Ospreys to the schools best start in the schools history.

Has acted as an Associate Scout for over 17 years for the New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners. John has been coaching baseball since 1989 and in 2001 and in 2002 became the first manager to win back to back ACBL Championships with the NJ Colts in his first and only two years as their head coach.

In 2002 John joined the Brookdale Community College staff where he worked with the pitchers and ran the offense as their Third Base Coach. During his time at Brookdale under Head Coach Johnny Johnson, John helped coach the team to 5 World Series appearances in 8 years as an assistant coach.

His relationship with college coaches only continues to grow and it is important to him to not only help place a player in college but make sure it is a well rounded fit in both the academics as well as baseball end for both the player and the school.

Baseball U has been invited to the largest amatuer baseball scouting event ran by Perfect Game USA in the PG WWBA World Championships in October held in Jupiter, Florida every year since the organization started.


Dennis Van Pelt - Director of Player Development / Coach      Email: [email protected]

Dennis is entering his 10th year as a member of the Baseball U staff. His indepth knowledge of the game has helped the program become one of the top baseball organizations in the country. During his time with Baseball U he has coached at every level in the organization helping develop the players skills as well as knowledge of the game.

Most recently Dennis was named to the Radford University Athletics Hall of Fame.

He was the former Head Coach at Manasquan High School as well as Long Branch High School.

Dennis was drafted twice during his high school and college playing days. In 1990 he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of Long Branch High School where he was inducted into the Long Branch HS Athletics Hall of Fame, but choose to attend the U of Kansas to play football where he sustained and injury and transfered to Radford University to play baseball. At Radford he was an All Big South selection and was drafted by the Aneheim Angels.

His college and professional baseball experience bring valuable information to the players and parents seeking the same goals for their son.


Casey Gaynor - Organizational Pitching Coach / Assistant Coach

 Casey Gaynor is in his first season with Montclair State and serves as the pitching coach as well as recruiting coordinator, bringing a wealth of experience to the Montclair State staff after spending four seasons in both roles at Rutgers University.

In 2016, Gaynor mentored senior ace HowieBrey to All-Big Ten honors after the left-hander worked 100.1 innings with four complete games. Brey worked to a 3.50 ERA with 84 strikeouts, a total that ranks third-most in a season in school history. Following the year, Brey was picked in the 31st round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.

Gaynor was part of the staff in 2015 that helped the Scarlet Knights transition to the Big Ten Conference. After the season, junior Mark McCoy was selected in the 29th round of the MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals.

In 2014, Gaynor was tasked with reworking a staff that graduated 100 percent of the weekend starting innings. He was able to successfully mold the unit to pitch to a 3.41 ERA in conference play, with a freshman pitcher starting 41 games overall.

Several hurlers earned accolades following the season, including Brey picking up all-conference and Gaby Rosa recording American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year. Rosa also went on to register Freshman All-America status. A Rutgers pitcher collected a weekly honor from the conference office in eight of the 14 weeks of the season.

In his first season on staff, Gaynor had three seniors sign professional contracts, while the pitching unit allowed a combined two runs to College World Series participant Louisville and USF in games at the Big East Tournament to reach the semifinals of the event.

The Toms River, N.J., native, who graduated in 2010, spent two years playing baseball professionally. After proving highly successful on the mound for Rutgers, the Cleveland Indians signed the right-hander.

Gaynor spent one season with the Indians' Class A affiliate Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the New York Penn League. With the Scrappers, he compiled a 4.04 ERA with a 5-2 record, appearing in 16 games and starting in five. Following his year with the Indians organization, Gaynor spent the summer of 2011 pitching for the Newark Bears in an independent baseball league. There, he started 13 games and compiled a 5-4 record.

Following his stay in professional baseball, Gaynor stayed involved by teaching the game by offering his knowledge and guidance to pitchers at camps and clinics. From June 2018 until August 2019, Gaynor was the Director of Pitching at GAINS Sports Performance. At GAINS, he created personalized pitching plans for clients and worked with innovative pitching and hitting technology used to improve technique.

The Toms River East High School graduate ('06) was one of the best and most reliable pitchers to take the rubber for the Scarlet Knights. Gaynor covers the baseball record books, ranking first all-time at Rutgers in starts (52) and innings (317.0). He also ranks second in career strikeouts, punching out 227 hitters in four seasons.

As a senior in 2010, Gaynor tallied eight wins to tie him for sixth all-time on the Rutgers single-season list. That year, he helped lead the Scarlet Knights to a 30-26 record, which placed sixth in the Big East. Rutgers reached the semifinals of the conference tournament that year. Gaynor was a member of the squad that gave Hill his 1,000th career victory that season.

His baseball success dates back to Little League. As an 11-year-old, Gaynor played with former Rutgers teammate Todd Frazier on the Toms River East America All-Star team that captured the World Championship at the Little League World Series in 1998.

Baseball runs in his family as well, as his brother Colin played for the Scarlet Knights baseball team from 2003-05 and also Coach Wells in the ACBL.

Gaynor, who still resides in Toms River

Casey who resides in Florham Park, N.J., graduated from Rutgers with a major in history and a minor in psychology.


Coach Pat Knight - Pitching Coach / Assistant Coach


Coach Knight is currently in his first year as an assistant coach at Montclair State University.


Coach Knight brings with him knowledge of the game having pitched at both the D1 level at George Washington University and at the JUCO level while playing for Coach Johnny Johnson at Brookdale Community College. While at Cranford HS, he was a two-time All Union County Conference Selection as well as First Team All State Group 3. In 2015 he helped Cranford to the Union County Championship.


Assistant Coach Montclair State University
Coach Knight in his first year acts as the Assistant Pitching coach as well as the First Base coach and works with the outfielders.
George Washington University
2019: Appeared in a team-high 26 games, starting once ... Was 6-3 with 42.2 IP while compiling 54 K ... Tied for the team lead in wins and paced the squad in strikeouts while ranking fifth in innings pitched. 

2018: Appeared in 22 games in his debut campaign with GW, starting two ... Was tied for the team lead in wins while appearing in the second-most games 

Brookdale Community College: Pitched to a 9-3 record with 80 strikeouts over 82 innings as a sophomore ... went 6-2 with 62 strikeouts over 52.2 innings as a freshman.

High School/Club: First Team All Union County Conference selection as a junior (2014) and senior (2015) ... First Team All State, Group 3 as a senior after registering 51 strikeouts in 40 innings while hitting .465... helped team to 2015 Union County Championship.

Personal: Born Patrick Emery Knight in Summit, New Jersey.  Resides in Green Brook, NJ.


Alan Socolow - Coach / Camp Coach

Alan was an outstanding baseball player at Ocean Twp High School team that won several championships. Alan attended Rutgers University.


Paddy Matera - Infield Instructor / Camp Coach

Paddy was also a former player of Coach Wells at both Baseball U and Brookdale CC. Paddy was an All Region player at Brookdale where he then went on to play at Lynn Univeristy where he helped them win a National Championship at the NCAA DII level. Paddy spent some time with the Cleveland Indians and spent many years playing for the Camden RiverSharks as well as the Newark Bears in the Atlantic League. Paddy played his high school baseball at Toms River North.

Rich Palase - Infield Instructor / Camp Coach

Rich who was also a player at Baseball U brings extensive knowledge to the infielders. Rich was drafted by the Seattle Mariners out of Lynchburg where he led the team in several offensive categories. In high school rich attened Moore Catholic in Staten Island.

Skip Deitz - Catching Instructor / Camp Coach

"Skip" brings a new exciting branch to the catching training to Baseball U. Not only will Skip be working with the catchers he will be bringing the catcher / umpire relationship to the workouts. Skip a former West Point Graduate where he lettered 4 times has been umpiring NCAA Baseball for 20 years. He has umpired in CWS Regionals 5 times, and has umpired in the ACC, A10, Big 10 and MAAC Conferences. He will bring to our catchers the mechanics and relationships that umpires look for at the next level. Prior to him attending West Point he was a First Team All Shore Catcher as well as First Team NJ HS All-State.

Ryan Cohen - Camp Infield Coach

Ryan played his high school baseball at Toms River East before attending Brookdale CC where he played baseball. Ryan also coached at Brookdale CC as well as Toms River East HS.

Justin Trochiano - Infield - Hitting Instructor / Camp Coach

Justin a former Baseball U player attended Monmouth University where he was a four year infielder for the Hawks. Another Shore Conference Alum where he attended Marlboro High School.

Ryan Wells - Camp Coach