DALLAS (NCBWA) The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association 19th annual Division I All-America baseball squads (first, second and third teams) again features a cavalcade of the nation·s elite players in 2014.
The balance in the talent on each of these three teams again indicates the close competition among 302 DI schools for the coveted eight places in the June 14-25 NCAA World Series starting Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park.
In fact, the All-America team is represented by 39 different teams and 17 conferences. There are 23 Division I circuit players or pitchers of the year on the three units, and 10 standouts who led their teams to NCAA Super Regionals and/or the 14 NCAA World Series.
Some of the more notable names among the group are Kentucky P-DH-1B A.J. Reed, who leads the nation with 23 home runs, added 70 RBIs, had a 12-2 pitching record, and was among the Southeastern Conference leaders in as many as nine statistical categories. He is a finalist for the 2014 Dick Howser Trophy as the NCAA Division I player of the year.
Fellow finalists Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto (.345 average, seven home runs, 56 RBIs), LSU pitcher Aaron Nola (11-1 record, 1.47 earned run average, 134 strikeouts in 116-plus innings pitched), Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost (led all DI catchers in batting average at .418 and helped KSU advance to its first Super Regional), and Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler (12-1, 0.78 ERA, 78 strikeouts) were the top vote recipients in the last of two ballots cast by the NCBWA membership.
Some of the other stars from the first unit are Tennessee Tech OF Brandon Thomasson (22 homers), North Florida OF Drew Weeks (A-A and NCAA topping .430 batting average, Pentecost is second nationally in BA), and fellow starting pitchers Blake Fox (12-0) of Rice, Casey Bloomquist (12-2) of Cal Poly and Jace Fry (11-2), among others.
The five starting hurlers on the first squad were a combined 58-6, while the three relief aces, all candidates for Saturdays NCBWA Stopper of the Year, registered a composite 60 saves. Louisville·s Nick Burdi and UC Irvine·s Sam Moore from this group pitched their respective teams to 2014 CWS berths.
The 2014 All-America team announcement precedes the presentation of the 28th annual Dick Howser Trophy at a national news conference Saturday at 10 a.m. (CDT) at TD Ameritrade Park. The NCBWA also will denote the 2014 DI Coach of the Year and the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Awards at this conference and will honor longtime NCAA championships administrator and Di Baseball World Series media coordinator J.D. Hamilton with the coveted Wilbur Snypp Award for contributions to college baseball.
The winner's name is inscribed on the permanent trophy, a bronze bust of Howser permanently displayed at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the 2008 American League champion, Tampa Bay Rays. Both the winner and his school receive a special trophy for keepsakes.
The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's death. Previous winners of the Howser Trophy are Mike Fiore, Miami, 1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryant, Texas, 1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College South, 1990; Frank Rodriguez, Howard College (Texas), 1991; Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, 1992 and 1993; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton, Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J.D. Drew, Florida State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999; Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 2000; Mark Prior, Southern California, 2001; Khalil Greene, Clemson, 2002; Rickey Weeks, Southern, 2003; Jered Weaver, Long Beach State, 2004; Alex Gordon, Nebraska, 2005; Brad Lincoln, Houston, 2006; David Price, Vanderbilt, 2007; Buster Posey, Florida State, 2008; Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State, 2009; Anthony Rendon, Rice, 2010, Taylor Jungmann, Texas, 2011, Mike Zunino, Florida, 2012 and Kris Bryant, San Diego, 2013.
NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists. Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport's only college media-related organization, founded in 1962.
For more information on the NCAA Division I All-America team, contact NCBWA Assistant Executive Director Mike Montoro of West Virginia University at 304-293-2821.
• NCBWA All-America Teams (2001-2014)