GREENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) As the calendar gets ready to turn to May for the 2021 collegiate baseball season, 65 of the sport's top relief pitchers have been named to the Midseason Watch List for the 16th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, members of the association announced Wednesday.
With so many collegiate players returning, after the 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the association has never seen this many talented arms on a single list. Eleven of the 65 players were on the preseason watch list, released in February, including Luke Boyd|Baylor/8saves), Taylor Broadway|Ole Miss/8), Geoffrey Gilbert|Clemson/3), Haylen Green|TCU/8), Chase Lee|Alabama/4), C.J. Mayhue|East Carolina/6), Scott Meylan|N.C. Central/7), Carson Palmquist|Miami, Fla./9), Frankie Scalzo|Grand Canyon/7), Stephen Schoch|Virginia/7) and Joe Taylor|Nicholls/7).
Among the newcomers to the watch list are the nations top three save leaders in CJ Culpepper|California Baptist/WAC), Zach Grech|Stanford/Pac-12) and Nick Jones|Georgia Southern/Sun Belt) each with 11 saves heading into this week·s action. Culpepper has made 14 appearances, posting a 1-1 record in 19 1/3 innings, while Grech owns a 4-3 ledger with a 2.64 ERA in 19 outings. Jones, who sports the second-lowest ERA among the watch list members at 0.63 over 28 2/3 frames, is 1-0 in 19 appearances.
Oregon States Jake Mulholland, a three-time midseason selection, sports a 2-1 record with nine saves and an impressive 0.86 ERA in 18 appearances. Other pitchers with less than a 1.00 ERA on the list are Arkansas· Kevin Kopps|0.97 ERA/5 saves), Mississippi State·s Landon Sims|0.67/5), Nicholls· Taylor|0.81), North Florida·s Stephen Halstead|0.96/1), USC Upstate·s Kevin Davis|0.50/5) and Vanderbilt·s Nick Maldonado|0.77/3).
There are 25 conferences represented on the list with the Southeastern Conference leading the way with eight relief pitchers. The Atlantic Coast Conference stands second with seven followed by the Southland and Big 12 with five each, while the Ohio Valley and Pac-12 each have four. In all, 15 of the 25 conferences have multiple selections and 25 of the 65 on the watch list are upperclassmen.
The NCBWA will announce the finalists on Wednesday, June 9 with the winner being named on Saturday, June 19 at the 2021 College World Series.
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 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 nations 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.