DALLAS (NCBWA) – Graced by 20-plus standouts from the NCAA World Series, NCAA Regionals and conference championship squads, the 19th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers preseason All-America teams represent the literal cream of the NCAA Division I crop prior to the start of the 162nd season of intercollegiate baseball.
Defending NCAA champ Vanderbilt sports three first teamers and one second team selection on this "dream" team. 2019 NCAA World Series Most Outstanding Player Kumar Rocker (12-5 overall, 114 strikeouts in 99-plus innings) of Vandy heads this foursome along with fellow first teamers starting pitcher Mason Hickman 9-0. 2.05 ERA) and relief pitcher Tyler Brown (3-1, 2.19 ERA, 17 saves). Second team choice for the Commodores is third baseman Austin Martin (.392-10 home runs-46 RBI, 105 hits to lead all standouts).
Defending NCAA runnerup Michigan also had solid representation on the three groups with first team outfielder Jordan Nwogu (.321- 12 HR- 46 RBI), second team outfielder Jesse Franklin (.262-13 HR-55 RBI) and starting pitcher Jeff Criswell (7-1, 2.72 ERA, 116 strikeouts) and third team reliever Willie Weiss (2-2, 2.97 ERA, nine saves).
The top unit features such power hitters as first baseman Spencer Torkelson of Arizona State with 23 home runs, outfielder Heston Kjerstad of Arkansas with 17 round-trippers and outfielder Chris Lanzilli of Wake Forest with 16 dingers. The first team starting pitchers were a composite 61-17 on the hill in 2019 while the four relief hurlers notched 65 saves topped by Illinois bullpen ace Garrett Acton with 19.
There are 20 different conferences are represented along with 12 conference championships teams, 23 NCAA Regional squads, and 12 individuals who were their conference players or pitchers of the year in '19.
One of the most versatile stars on the first unit is East Carolina's utility standout Alec Burleson with a .370 batting average, nine home runs, 61 RBI, a 6-2 pitching record 68 strikeouts in 60-plus innings, five saves, and a 3.28 earned run average as a first team All-American Athletic Conference choice last spring.
The 2020 NCBWA first team pitching staff besides Rocker (son of NFF College Hall of Fame defensive lineman and Outland Trophy recipient Tracy Rocker of Auburn) and Hickman are top wins' total starter All-Atlantic Coast Conference Reid Detmers of Louisville (13-4, 2.78 ERA, 167 whiffs in 113-plus innings), All-Southeastern Conference moundmen Asa Lacey (8-4, 2.13 ERA, 130 strikeouts in just under 89 innings) of Texas A&M and Emerson Hancock (8-3, 1.99 ERA, 07 strikeouts in 90-plus innings) and All-Western Athletic Conference Grand Canyon stalwart Kade Mechals with a 11-1 record, 2.16 ERA and 100 strikeouts in nearly 92 innings. Along with Acton and Brown, relief stars Gonzaga's Alek Jacob and UCLA's Holden Powell on the first team combined for 29 saves.
Top squad designated hitter All-Pac-12 Conference slugger Matthew Dyer of Arizona logged a .393 batting average tops among the top 11 position players and DH.
Previous NCBWA All-America teams from 1996-2019 also have featured the likes of 3B Kris Bryant of San Diego, P Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State, 1B Mark Teixeira of Georgia Tech, RHP Mark Prior of USC, SS-2B Rickie Weeks of Southern U., 3B Alex Gordon of Nebraska, P David Price of Vanderbilt, C Buster Posey of Florida State, catcher Mike Zunino of Florida, OF Andrew Benintendi of Arkansas, and 1B-P Brendan McKay (2017 Dick Howser Trophy) of Louisville, among others.
Founded in 1962, the NCBWA is dedicated to the advancement of college baseball. Membership is open to writers, broadcasters and publicists of the sport. For more information about the NCBWA, visit the association's official website ncbwa.com. The preseason All-America squads are considered the first step toward the eventual selection of the 2020 Dick Howser Trophy presented by the Game Headwear and voted upon for 23 seasons by members of the NCBWA.