GREENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) Forty-five players have been named to the initial Watch List for the 16th 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 Friday.
This year's talented group are led by 12 preseason NCBWA All-America selections including first-teamers Luke Boyd (Baylor), Tyler Grauer (Indiana State), Michael Kirian (Louisville) and Jason Ruffcorn (Oklahoma). Both Boyd and Kirian lead the way with six saves from a year ago, which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In seven appearances, Grauer notched five saves and posted a 1.59 ERA, while Ruffcorn also tallied five in seven outings sporting a 0.00 ERA.
Other preseason NCBWA All-Americans on this year's list include Kyle Brennan (Belmont/third-team), Micah Dallas (Texas Tech/second-team), Devin Fontenot (LSU/second-team), Haylen Green (TCU/third-team), Jaden Hill (LSU/third-team), Kyle Mora (UCLA/second-team), Stephen Schoch (Virginia/second-team) and Caleb Wurster (UConn/third-team).
The Southeastern Conference had the most representatives with 10 players finding their names on the watch list. Fontenot led the group earning four saves, while Brock Guffey (Alabama) posted a 3-0 record in five appearances. In all, the 10 players sported a combined 11-1 record with 14 saves in 60 outings. The Atlantic Coast Conference had seven, while the Big 12 had four landing on the list.
Of the initial 45 members, 13 were named to last year's watch list including Chase Haney (Florida State/3-0 with a 1.29 ERA), Bruce Hudson (Radford/4 saves), Brett Kerry (South Carolina/2-0 and 1 save), Kent Klyman (NC State/2 saves with a 1.42 ERA), Hunter McGarry (FGCU/3-1 and 3 saves), Colten Rendon (Winthrop/4 saves with 1.29 ERA), Blake Schriever (CSUN/4 saves with 0.82 ERA) and Redmond Walsh (Tennessee/2 saves and 0.00 ERA).
In total, 19 conferences are represented on this list with at least two players coming from 10 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, Florida's Michael Byrne in 2018 and UCLA's Holden Powell in 2019.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player and the Mike Martin National Coach of the Year to the nation's top coach. 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.