GREEENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) As the calendar gets ready to turn to May for the 2019 collegiate baseball season, 45 of the sports top relief pitchers have been named to the Midseason Update for the 15th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, members of the association announced Wednesday.
Five of the 45 players were on the preseason watch list released in February, including Stanford's Jake Little, 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. After registering 16 saves as a freshman in 2018, Little has eight on the year in 15 appearances.
Among the newcomers to the watch list are the nation's top three saves leaders. UT Arlington's Andrew Gross has a NCAA-best 16 saves as senior, while Illinois' Garrett Action (13) and Harvard's Kieran Shaw (12) round out the Top 3. Twelve players on the list have already registered double-digit saves, according to the latest NCAA stats.
There are 23 conferences represented on the list with the Southeastern Conference leading the way with seven relief pitchers. The Big Ten, Mountain West Conference and Pac-12 each have three on the list, while 30 of the 45 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. Georgias 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 Louisville·s Lincoln Henzman in 2017 and Florida·s Michael 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.