Bruins receive highest recruiting class ranking under head coach John Savage.
T.J. Bruce enters his third season as an assistant coach with UCLA in 2013. A former player and assistant coach at Long Beach State, Bruce serves as the infield coach, leads the program's recruiting efforts and assists with the hitters.
In 2012, UCLA's defense recorded a .976 fielding percentage for the second straight year, matching the second-highest mark in school history. Bruce also helped coach the Bruins to a second straight Pac-12 championship and a College World Series berth for the second time in three years. In seven seasons as a Division I assistant coach, Bruce has made five appearances in NCAA postseason play. As the Bruins' recruiting coordinator, Bruce also helped bring in the heralded 2012 recruiting class, which was named the No. 2 class in the country by Baseball America.
As UCLA's infield coach in 2011, Bruce helped the Bruins' defense post a .976 fielding percentage, the second-highest mark in the Pac-10 and 16th-best percentage in the nation. UCLA logged its second-highest fielding percentage (.976) and second-lowest errors total (51) on record in school history.
Bruce's work with UCLA's infield proved most crucial with the development of shortstop Pat Valaika and second basemen Kevin Williams and Trevor Brown. Valaika, a freshman in 2011, secured the Bruins' starting shortstop job just three weeks into the season, started all 27 Pac-10 games at that position, and became one of the infield's greatest assets. Valaika followed up his solid freshman season with an even better sophomore campaign that saw him start 61 of UCLA's 64 games and become the leader of the infield.
Williams and Brown each made just one error at second base in 2011, splitting time at that position through the season's final 40 games. In 2012, Brown became the most versatile member of the team, seeing time at first base, second base, third base and catcher while committing just four errors all season. Brown was then drafted in the 10th round of the MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. Williams spent the majority of the 2012 season at second base and under Bruce's guidance became one of the team's best fielders, posting a .977 fielding percentage.
Prior to his arrival at UCLA, Bruce spent five seasons (2005, 2007-10) as an assistant coach at Long Beach State, helping lead the 49ers to NCAA Regional appearances in 2007 and 2008. He served as an undergraduate assistant coach at Long Beach State in 2005, guiding the 49ers to an NCAA Regional berth.
Working with the infielders as an assistant coach at Long Beach State, Bruce helped the development of All-Big West Conference selections Troy Tulowitzki (2003-05), Evan Longoria (2005-06), Danny Espinosa (2007) and Devin Lohman (2010). Tulowitzki and Longoria have since enjoyed successful major league careers with the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively.
Bruce spent the 2006 season as an assistant coach at Cerritos College, helping the Falcons advance to the Southern California College playoffs. Cerritos finished the season with a 27-17 record, tied for second place in the competitive South Coast Conference. Two players from that team were selected in the 2006 MLB Draft.
Bruce played for Long Beach State as a senior in 2004 after spending his first two seasons (2001-02) at Cerritos College and his junior year (2003) at Texas Tech. In 2004, he helped Long Beach State to an NCAA Super Regional. The 49ers fell one game short of advancing to the College World Series, dropping the best-of-three series to Arizona in a decisive third game that lasted 11 innings. That season, Bruce played alongside current Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
At Texas Tech in 2003, Bruce batted at a .321 clip, playing in all 55 games (making 53 starts). He belted three home runs, collecting 11 doubles, 38 RBI and 44 runs during his junior campaign.
Bruce earned honorable mention All-South Coast Conference acclaim in each of his two seasons at Cerritos College, leading the Falcons to the first round of the Southern California College playoffs both years. He batted .320 as a freshman in 2001 and finished his sophomore year batting .330 with 37 RBI and 28 stolen bases.
A three-year baseball letterwinner at St. John Bosco High School, Bruce was twice named to the Long Beach Press-Telegram's "Dream Team" as a standout shortstop. He earned All-League Most Valuable Player honors as a junior and senior at St. John Bosco, helping lead the Braves to the league championship his senior season.
Bruce, 30, resides with his wife, Heather, and their daughters, Rhowan (born Oct. 2009) and Harloe (born June 2011) in Lakewood, Calif.