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#2 T.J. Bruce
Position: Assistant Coach
Experience: 4 Years
Bruce enters his fifth season as an assistant coach with UCLA in 2015. 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.

Over the past four seasons at UCLA, Bruce has helped the Bruins post a 157-87-1 overall record. In addition, UCLA has advanced to the postseason three times, including two trips to the College World Series (2012, 2013) and the program’s first-ever NCAA title (2013). As the team’s recruiting coordinator, his efforts were largely responsible for UCLA securing the nation’s No. 2-ranked incoming class in the fall of 2012 (as ranked by Baseball America).

During UCLA’s championship season in 2013, Bruce’s work as the team’s infield coach helped produce a school-record .980 fielding percentage, which ranked sixth-best in the nation. His work was equally apparent with the strong play of shortstop Pat Valaika and third baseman Kevin Kramer, a pair of then-sophomore infielders who committed fewer than 10 errors each in 68 games.

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 title and the program’s second College World Series berth in three years.

In 2011, Bruce helped the Bruins’ defense post a .976 fielding percentage, the second-highest mark in the Pac-10 and the 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.

During his tenure with the Bruins, Bruce’s work has proved most crucial with the development of shortstop Pat Valaika, second baseman Trevor Brown and second baseman Kevin Williams. As a freshman in 2011, Valaika secured the starting shortstop job just three weeks into the season, started all 27 Pac-10 games at the position, and became one of UCLA’s greatest assets on the infield. As a sophomore in 2012, Valaika started 61 of UCLA’s 64 games, and as a junior in 2013, he became UCLA’s first-ever player to earn Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Valaika secured 2013 Division I Rawlings Gold Glove Team acclaim.

Williams and Brown committed just one error at second base in 2011, splitting time at that position through the final 40 games of the season. In 2012, Brown established himself as UCLA’s most versatile defensive player, competing at first base, second base, third base and catcher, while committing just four errors all season. Brown was selected in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. Williams posted a .977 fielding percentage in 2012, playing the majority of the season at second base.

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), Matt Duffy (2010) and Devin Lohman (2010). Tulowitzki and Longoria have since enjoyed successful major league careers with the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively. Duffy was promoted to the San Francisco Giants midway through the 2014 season.

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, 32, resides with his wife, Heather, and their three children in Lakewood, Calif. The couple has two daughters, Rhowan (4) and Harloe (3), and one son, Jaxon (born Oct. 2013).

 

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