Despite the graduation and professional signings of such groups as 12 members of the post-2001 NCBWA first unit, the pre-’02 squads are representative of all areas and talent levels throughout the country.
Stanford second baseman Chris O’Riordan heads the list of 2002 returnees on the first unit while Clemson third baseman Jeff Baker brings back post-2001 second team All-America credentials.
While a solid staff of pre-2002 pitchers graces the All-America projections, the first team’s starters include a foursome with a combined record of 44-10 in 2001 and NCAA World Series participants Shane Komine of Nebraska and Stanford’s Jeremy Guthrie. First-teamers Michael Rogers of Oral Roberts (14-1) and Komine (14-2) are NCAA Division I leaders in returning individual victories.
The relief corps includes returning 2001 second team selection Dave Bush of Wake Forest with 16 saves and a 2.65 ERA along with sophomore standout George Huguet of defending national champion Miami. Huguet was 1-0 with 14 saves in 44 appearances as a freshman in 2001 and had a 2.03 earned run average.
Power hitters join these dominating pitchers on the third edition of the NCBWA pre-campaign All-America squads. Besides Clemson’s Baker with 22 home runs (major college’s highest returing round-tripper total) and 69 runs-batted-in on the first unit, Tigers’ teammate 1B Michael Johnson blasted 18 home runs to net top unit laurels.
Miami shortstop Javy Rodriguez, freshman from a visit to the White House to celebrate the 2001 NCAA championship with head coach Jim Morris and former Yale righthander U.S. President George W. Bush, adds some of the most daunting statistics to the dream team. The returning senior stole a 2001 nation’s-best 66 bases while batting .388 with five homers and 51 RBI. First team catcher Jeremy Brown of Alabama batted .363 with no errors in 330 chances as a junior in ’01.
The All-America outfield also includes a pair of standouts who captured Player of the Year honors in their respective conferences. Notre Dame’s Steve Stanley, a junior in 2002, batted .400 with 31 stolen bases and 102 hits while leading the Fighting Irish to the brink of a NCAA World Series berth while netting Big East Player of the Year recognition. Towson OF Gregg Davies earned Player of the Year kudos in the America East Conference after hitting .399, smacking 15 homers, driving in 74 runs and notching Most Valuable Player honors in the America East postseason tourney.
Conference USA standout Michael Aubrey of Tulane returns with equally-impressive credentials as the designated hitter-utility athlete on the first team. The 2001 National Freshman of the Year belted 13 homers with 69 RBI for the initial Green Wave entry in the NCAA World Series while going 3-1 as a pitcher. Two of his wins came in the NCAA tournament, and he also had a CWS appearance on the mound.
On the 72-man contingent, which includes both starting pitchers and relief men, there are 12 different conferences represented and players from 21 different state where their universities are located.
In 2002 the NCBWA again will join forces with the Greater St. Petersburg (Fla.) Chamber of Commerce to select the national collegiate player of the year in presentation of the Dick Howser Trophy – emblematic of the collegian with standout athletics’ ability as well as off-field character and service. Last year’s Howser Trophy winner was consensus Player of the Year stalwart pitcher Mark Prior of Southern California.
2002 NCBWA Preseason First Team All-Americans
Infielders: Michael Johnson, 1b, Clemson; Chris O’Riordan, 2b, Stanford; Jeff Baker, 3b, Clemson; Javy Rodriguez, ss, Miami.
Catcher: Jeremy Brown, Alabama.
Oufielders: Steve Stanley, Notre Dame; Gregg Davies, Towson; Carlos Quentin, Stanford.
Utility: Michael Aubrey, Tulane.
Starting Pitchers: Bobby Brownlie, Rutgers; Jeremy Guthrie, Stanford; Shane Komine, Nebraska; Michael Rogers, Oral Roberts.
Relief Pitchers: Dave Bush, Wake Forest; George Huguet, Miami.