R.J. Thomas joined the Spider Baseball program in the summer of 2017 as Richmond's pitching coach and the top assistant on Tracy Woodson's staff. In the fall of 2019, Thomas was promoted to his current position of Associate Head Coach.
The Richmond pitching staff continued to make strides in 2019, earning a 4.54 team ERA in 487.2 innings of work. 15 pitchers made at least 10 appearances during the season as the depth of the Spider staff was one of the key elements to the 2019 season. The weekend duo of Tim Miller and Brendan McGuigan started every weekend. Miller led the team pitching 75.2 innings and holding opponents to a .221 batting average. Miller led the team with five wins and continued to put the Spiders in good position every series opener. McGuigan led the team with 84 strikeouts in 70.0 innings of work, ranking 74th nationally with 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Layne Looney returned for another season at Richmond after being drafted in 2018. Looney led the Spiders with five saves during the season, appearing in 22 games. Antonio Balducci led the team with 23 appearances out of the bullpen for the second-straight season. Thomas helped McGuigan earn the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Week award during the season and had four freshman log significant innings on the mound. Freshman Jacob Marcus worked his way into the weekend rotation, starting in eight games during the year and logged the Spiders only complete game of the year. Marcus finished the year 129th in strikeouts per nine innings nationally, and ranked as the seventh-best freshman. Relievers Brian Craven and Garrett Aylor combined for 33 relief appearances in their rookie seasons. Craven earned a 3.33 ERA in 24.1 innings. Aylor worked in 28.1 innings with 18 strikeouts and earned three wins during the season.
In his first full season with the Spider pitchers, Thomas' staff compiled a 3.70 ERA, had two players receive professional contract offers and helped lead the Spiders to the most wins in a single season in the Tracy Woodson era. Layne Looney led the Spiders with a 0.60 ERA and was drafted in the 19th round of the MLB Draft, before deciding to come back and pitch his senior season with Richmond. Weekend starter Robbie Baker signed a free agent deal with the Boston Red Sox organization after the draft and competed with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox during the summer of 2018. The 3.70 staff ERA ranked fourth in the A-10, while the spiders struck out an average of 8.51 hitters per game, also fourth in the conference. The Spiders set a school record, striking out 471 hitters during the season, led by Baker's 78. Under Thomas' guidance, Looney and Baker each earned First Team All-Atlantic 10 honors in 2018, and redshirt freshman Tim Miller was named to the A-10 All-Rookie team after serving as a weekend starter for the Spiders. The Spiders were among the top staffs in the nation, ranking 48th nationally in WHIP, 38th in in team ERA and 21st in hits allowed per nine innings.
Thomas came to Richmond following a five-year stint as the head coach at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. During his time at the helm, the Pirates played in five-straight Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Tournaments, and advanced to the finals in 2016. In addition, he's had 23 All-SCAC honorees, including the 2015 SCAC Player of the Year. He guided the Pirates as one of the top programs in the SCAC and at the Division III level, continuing to provide strong competition against consistently ranked opponents. Off the field, Thomas helped develop donor and restored alumni relationships that helped with several improvements around the Southwestern Baseball facility. In Thomas's tenure, the Pirates made upgrades to the dugouts, home plate area, laser graded the infield, installed a new irrigation system for the field and assisted with bullpen improvements. His teams also excelled in the classroom, earning the highest team GPA in program history, all while exceeding team goals in wins, annual fundraising totals, camps/clinics attendance and continued to improve alumni relations.
Prior to his time at Southwestern, Thomas was tasked with reviving the Hendrix College baseball program. He led the Warriors to three SCAC Tournament Appearances, two appearances in the SCAC Championship game and claimed the 2009 SCAC Conference Championship. With the 2009 Championship team, the Warriors made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and he was named the SCAC Coach of the Year. He led the Warriors back to the SCAC Championship game after guiding Hendrix to a second place finish in the SCAC Western Division in 2012. His leadership helped Hendrix Baseball become a nationally respected Division III baseball program on the field as he guided 32 student-athletes to All-Conference selections. He also helped lead the renovation efforts on Warrior Field, raising over $250,000 in improvements to the facility, and helped design and construct the baseball facility. On the recruiting trail, Thomas helped bring in recruits from 15 different states developing a national brand for Hendrix baseball. His teams also exceeded their goals in wins, annual fundraising totals, team GPA, improved field conditions, raised camps/clinic attendance and enhanced alumni relations.
As an administrator, Thomas worked as the Assistant Director of Compliance for two years and was the Athletic Facilities Construction Coordinator for a year while at Hendrix.
Thomas is a 2004 graduate of the University of Central Arkansas where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. Thomas and his wife Stephanie have two daughters, Sophie and Isabel.