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WILMORE, Ky. — Manny Cervantes is returning to the Bluegrass State.

Cervantes, a former player at the University of Kentucky under long-time coach Keith Madison, was announced as Asbury University’s new baseball coach on Friday. He steps into the role vacated by Bob Silvanik, who spent six years at the helm of the program.

“This is an extremely exciting time for Asbury baseball and I’m thrilled to add Manny to the Asbury family and community,” Asbury Athletics Director Mark Perdue said. “Manny has coached and played at all levels and has found success on and off the field everywhere he has been. He’s a great fit for Asbury and he is the right individual to lead and grow our program.”

Asbury University BaseballCervantes has a plethora of experience in the baseball world, both as a player and a coach. Most recently he served for two years as the recruiting coordinator and an assistant coach at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Okla.

“I’m excited and honored to be the head baseball coach at Asbury,” Cervantes said. “I believe God has called me to lead this program, and our family is excited to be a part of the Asbury community. For me, coaching is about more than the game of baseball, it’s an opportunity and responsibility to make a positive impact on young adults.

“I’ve learned that a coach who demonstrates strong Christian leadership makes a lifelong impact on his players as Christ’s ambassadors to the world,” he continued. “Under God’s continued direction, I look forward to investing myself in the lives of the players whom I have the privilege to coach at Asbury, as well as helping them play baseball to the best of their ability. Our team will win on and off the field and be a program that Asbury will be proud of for years to come.”

Cervantes played his college ball at both Oklahoma State University and Kentucky and spent two seasons in the Seattle Mariners’ minor-league system before turning to coaching.

Cervantes, a stellar high school player from Whittier, Calif., was selected by the New York Mets in the 1987 MLB draft, but instead opted to attend Oklahoma State. Cervantes was a three-year starter at first base for the Cowboys, during which time Oklahoma State made the NCAA tournament three times and reached the national title game once.

He transferred to Kentucky for his senior season to play for coach Madison and earned second-team All-SEC honors in 1991 for the Wildcats. The Mariners signed him as a free agent later that year and he played two seasons in the Class-A California League.

Cervantes followed his playing career with a coaching stint in the Mariners’ minor-league system from 1992 to 1994. In more recent years, he established a private baseball coaching business in Oklahoma, where he currently resides with his wife, Jami, and three children. Cervantes, who also works as an insurance agent, worked as a volunteer coach at Stillwater (Okla.) High School in 2011 and 2012.

Cervantes — who moves to Wilmore in June, but begins recruiting activities immediately — will have the pleasure of coaching at Asbury’s new, multimillion-dollar Kirkland Complex. Dedicated just a few months ago, it features an all-new laser-graded field, lights, bleachers, press box, scoreboard and more.