GREENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) As the 2018 collegiate baseball season gets ready to turn to May, 41 of the sport's top relief pitchers have been named to the Midseason Watch List for the 14th Annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, as announced today by the organization.
Twelve of the 41 players were on the preseason watch list released in February, including Florida's Michael Byrne, who is the only returner among last year's five finalists for an award given annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. Byrne is one of 18 hurlers with double-digit saves (10) and owns a 1.62 ERA in 20 relief appearances.
Among the 29 newcomers to the watch list are the nation's top three saves leaders. Jacksonville's Chris Mauloni has a NCAA-best 16 saves as a freshman, while Stetson's Brooks Wilson (15) and VCU's Mac McCarty (14) round out the Top 3. Duke's Jack Labosky sports a 0.00 ERA in 13 appearances to lead the group, while Little Rock's Justin Garcia and Jackson State's Jose Tirado have appeared in 24 games out of the bullpen.
There are 21 conferences represented on the list with the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Southeastern Conference leading the way with four relief pitchers. Twenty-one of the 41 players currently lead their respective conferences in saves, while 31 on the watch list are upperclassmen.
Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007. Georgia's Joshua Fields topped the field in 2008, San Diego State's Addison Reed grabbed the honor in 2009 and Texas' Chance Ruffin earned the honor in 2010. The Longhorns' Corey Knebel won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA's David Berg was crowned the winner in 2013, Louisville's Nick Burdi took home the 2014 honor and Berg became the award's first two-time winner in 2015. Miami (Fla.)'s Bryan Garcia was honored as the 2016 recipient followed by the Louisville' Lincoln Henzman in 2017.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I, II and III Players of the Week and Division I, II and III Players of the Year.