The 2001 selections, released Wednesday by NCBWA, include five players from NCAA World Series first-time entrants Tulane and Nebraska.
The first unit also is loaded with all-star starting pitchers in the persons of Southern California's Mark Prior, Middle Tennessee's Dewon Brazelton and Notre Dame's Aaron Heilman. That trio had a combined record of 42-3 through games of June 4, and Prior and Brazelton were the second and third selections overall, respectively, in Tuesday's first round of the Major League Baseball draft. The three standouts also struck out a composite 464 opposing hitters in 372 2/3 innings while the relief pitchers on the first team combined for 31 saves.
All nine standouts who were named 2001 NCBWA Players of the Year for Division I made one of the first three units as the first unit had almost a complete turnover from the 2000 NCBWA All-America team.
The middle infield includes two of the top hitters-fielders in the nation in Dick Howser Trophy finalist SS Chris Burke of Tennessee and 2B Chris O'Riordan of Stanford, which joins the Volunteers in the eight-team NCAA World Series field.
Burke was chosen Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference and is the No. 8 batting average man in NCAA Division I statistics prior to the CWS with a .439 mark, 19 home runs and 39 RBI.
O'Riordan scored the winning run in Stanford's 10-9 victory over Texas in the 2001 Stanford Regional and has been a solid cog in the Cardinal's offense all year with a .374 average, 12 homers and 66 RBI.
Miami's Javy Rodriguez, who is the nation's base stealing leader with 66 for the World Series-bound Hurricanes, is the very capable second team shortstop with a .384 average, five homers and 58 RBI. Backing O'Riordan on the NCBWA All-America second team contingent is Memphis' Daniel Uggla, who rose from relative obscurity to pace the Tigers with a .379 average, 18 homer and 67 RBI.
The first team third baseman, Jake Gautreau of Tulane, also had very credible numbers as a sophomore in 2000, but few envisioned that he would lead the Green Wave of Conference USA to a 55-11 record, a NCAA New Orleans Super Regional victory over LSU, and the team's initial trip to the World Series under head coach Rick Jones this year. The hard-hitting 3B is batting .354 with 20 homers and 91 RBI at the 65-game mark. The second unit third baseman had similar success as Clemson's Jeff Baker belted 23 home runs and drove in 75 runs.
Fellow first-timer in Omaha 1B Dan Johnson (24 HR, 85 RBI to lead the Big 12 Conference) of Nebraska joins Baylor catcher Kelly Shoppach as their conference's first team representatives. In the designated hitter/utility-athlete position arguably the nation's top slugger is on the No. 1 team.
Kent State's John VanBenschoten not only used his hitting to get KSU into the 2001 NCAA Regionals, but he also showed pitching prowess with a 2-2 record, 2.77 ERA and eight saves in 21 appearances. His power numbers included a current national-leading 31 home runs with 84 RBI for the Mid-American Conference representative in the 2001 NCAA meet.
The starting outfield for the 2001 NCBWA All-America squad includes the top hitter in the Pacific-10 Conference, UCLA's Brian Baron (.443), along with a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference stalwarts. Florida State's John-Ford Griffin, whose team made it to Omaha in 2000 but was edged out for a 2001 berth by Georgia, hit .450 to post the nation's fourth-best batting average while Wake Forest's Cory Sullivan finished the year at .390 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI.
In all, the 43 student-athletes comprising the top three teams of elite diamondmen represent the cream of the college diamond crop and the seven finalists from which the 2001 Dick Howser Trophy will be chosen on Friday, June 8, with a 10:30 a.m. (CDT) news conference in the Old Lobby (2nd Floor) of the Marriott Courtyard in Omaha. The seven are Brazelton, Burke, Heilman, Nebraska first baseman Dan Johnson, catcher Casey Myers of Arizona State, Prior, and VanBenschoten.