GREENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) Seventy-five players have been named to the initial Watch List for the 15th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I Baseball, the association announced Monday.
Sophomores Jack Little (Stanford) and Chris Mauloni (Jacksonville) headline this year's list after being named finalists a year ago for an award that was captured by Florida's Michael Byrne. Little notched 16 saves while sporting a 0.60 ERA in 25 games in 2018, while Mauloni tied for the national lead last year (20 saves) and posting a 2.97 ERA in 29 contests both were tabbed as first-team preseason All-Americans.
The Southeastern Conference had the most representation with 12 players finding their names on the watch list. That group is headlined by preseason All-America selection Parker Caracci (Ole Miss/second-team), who registered 10 saves with a 2.25 ERA in 27 appearances. Little and Jake Mulholland (Oregon State/first-team) led seven Pac-12 members on the list, while the Colonial Athletic Association had six hurlers including Layne Looney (Richmond/third-team) who logged eight saves in 23 games posting with a 0.60 ERA.
Fourteen players recorded double-digit saves a season ago with nine of those earning inclusion to the 2019 NCBWA Preseason All-America team. Other preseason All-America notables include Matt Cronin (Arkansas/third-team), Brandon Eisert (Oregon State/third-team), Casey Legumina (Gonzaga/second-team), Max Meyer (Minnesota/second-team), Zach Schneider (Florida Atlantic/thirdteam) and Dylan Thomas (Hawai'i/second-team).
In total, 26 conferences are represented on this list with at least two players coming from 17 different leagues.
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 the Cardinal's Lincoln Henzman in 2017 and Byrne last year.
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.