One of the top players in Rutgers history, Darren Fenster begins his seventh season as a member of head coach Fred Hill’s staff and fourth as an assistant coach with the Scarlet Knights. After serving three seasons as the Director of Baseball Operations at Rutgers, Fenster was promoted to an assistant coach in September of 2008. A two-time All-American shortstop at Rutgers who played six years professionally in the Kansas City Royals' organization, Fenster brings a wealth of knowledge to the Scarlet Knights’ bench.
Fenster serves as Rutgers’ hitting and outfield mentor along with his duties as the third base coach. He oversees the program’s recruiting operations and has continued the long tradition of keeping the top scholastic talent from New Jersey home to play for the State University of New Jersey.
Prior to his appointment as a coach on the Rutgers staff, Fenster spent two summers coaching in NCAA-sanctioned summer leagues in the prestigious Cape Cod and Northwoods Baseball Leagues.
In just a short term in the coaching profession, Fenster has produced results. He served as the hitting and third base coach, while running the offense for the Orleans Cardinals (now the Firebirds) in Orleans, Mass. during the 2008 Cape Cod summer league. He guided the squad to a league-best 25-17-2 regular-season record, earning the Eastern Division crown. In 2007, Fenster led the St. Cloud River Bats in St. Cloud, Minn. to the Northwoods League Championship as the team’s infield and first base coach.
In just six years in the coaching ranks, Fenster has already seen 37 of his former players drafted or signed by Major League clubs, including two first round picks, shortstop Todd Frazier in 2007 and Sacramento State outfielder Tim Wheeler in 2009 (whom he coached in both Orleans and St. Cloud), as well as eight others selected in the first ten rounds.
Fenster, who joined the Rutgers staff in April of 2006, offers Hill an experienced resource to help evaluate and teach current players all aspects of the game. He also provides detailed scouting reports of the opposing teams, and administers the Knights Baseball Camps in both the summer and winter.
The program leader in several offensive categories including career hits (315), single-season hits (101) and career doubles (65), Fenster was a four-year starter at shortstop for Rutgers (1997-2000). He was a part of three BIG EAST Regular Season and Tournament championships, winning the 1998 and 2000 titles as a player and achieving the feat again in 2007 as a member of the staff. A native of Middletown, N.J., Fenster is also a part of four appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including three as a player.
As a senior in 2000, Fenster was a consensus First-Team All-American, hitting .433 en route to BIG EAST Player of the Year and NCBWA District II Player of the Year honors. That season, Rutgers posted its first-ever 40-win season, was ranked as high as No. 14 nationally and served as the top seed and host of the NCAA Regional in Upper Montclair, N.J. He was captain and MVP of a team that would feature three future Major Leaguers (David DeJesus, Jason Bergmann, Val Majewski) and a first-round draft choice (Bobby Brownlie). Fenster was also one of 10 finalists for the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate player. He was also a three-time All-BIG EAST selection.
Drafted in the 12th round by the Kansas City Royals following his All-American season in 2000, Fenster advanced to the AA level in the Royals system and was a Carolina League All-Star in both 2002 and 2004, as a member of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Following a breakout season in 2004 where he hit a career-best .302 between A-Wilmington and AA-Wichita, Fenster was a non-roster invitee to the Royals spring training camp in 2005, where he suffered a career-ending ACL injury while playing third base in a spring training game with the Major League Club.
Dating back to the start of his time at Rutgers in 1997, Fenster would play alongside 71 teammates who would reach the Major Leagues, including DeJesus, the Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s outfielder, 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Garrett Atkins and San Diego Padres standout pitcher Aaron Harang. In addition, during his career he would also play against Major League stars Chase Utley, Grady Sizemore, Brad Lidge, Jeff Francoeur, Ian Kinsler and Felix Hernandez, among others.
A 2000 graduate of Rutgers with a degree in communications, Fenster was the recipient of the David Coursen Award, given annually to the graduating male athlete for “character, courage, prowess, and loyalty to both your team and our University,” and the Sonny Werblin Award, given to an individual who has brought national recognition to the University through athletic achievement. A four-time BIG EAST academic honoree, he was enshrined into the Rutgers Olympic Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. A 1996 graduate of Middletown High School South, Fenster was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. He currently resides in Neptune.