Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List revealed

DALLAS (NCBWA) – Eighty-one players have been named to the initial Watch List for the 18th 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 Thursday. Nominees were submitted by the institution or conference Sports Information Directors.

This year’s impressive group is led by 12 preseason NCBWA All-America selections including first-teamers Peter Allegro (Portland), Cade Denton (Oral Roberts), William Privette (Charleston) and Andrew Walters (Miami, (Fla.)). Walters, a finalist for the 2022 award, collected 14 saves in 32.2 innings pitched, giving up just seven runs, six earned, on 13 hits with a 1.65 ERA. Privette, another 2022 finalist, notched a 0.91 ERA last season with a 3-1 record with 12 saves, six earned runs allowed and 80 strikeouts in 59.1 innings pitched. Denton finished with a 0.41 ERA for Oral Roberts, boasting six saves, 55 strikeouts, four runs and two earned in 0.41 innings pitched. Portland’s Allegro went 4-2 with a 2.76 ERA, 13 saves and 49 strikeouts in 49.0 innings tossed.  

Additional preseason NCBWA All-Americans on this year’s list include Carter Benbrook (UC Santa Barbara, third team), Ryan Bruno (Stanford, second team), Kirby Connell (Tennessee, second team), Kiernan Higgans (Virginia Tech, third team), Sam Klein (Ball State, second team), Reid McLaughlin (BYU, second team), Thomas Schultz (Vanderbilt, third team) and Camden Sewell (Tennessee, third team). 

The Southeastern Conference led the way with the most representatives with 17 players finding their names on the watch list. The Pac-12 Conference followed with nine, while the Atlantic Coast Conference had eight and the Big 12 Conference six. 

Of the initial 81 members, 17 were featured on last year’s midseason watch list. In total, 21 conferences are represented on this list with at least two players coming from 15 different leagues.

Following is the complete preseason watch list:

  • Matt Ager, UC Santa Barbara, So.
  • Jordy Allard, Northeastern, Gr.
  • Peter Allegro, Portland, Gr.
  • John Armstrong, Auburn, So.
  • Cade Austin, South Carolina, R-So.
  • John Bakke, Morehead State, Gr.
  • Christian Becerra, Cal, So.
  • Carter Benbrook, UC Santa Barbara, R-Jr.
  • Ryan Brown, Oregon State, R-So.
  • Ryan Bruno, Stanford, Jr.
  • Cam Clark, Towson, Gr.
  • Jack Collins, Binghamton, Sr.
  • Kirby Connell, Tennessee, Sr.
  • Blake Corsentino, Kansas State, Jr.
  • Sean Culkin, James Madison, R-Jr.
  • Brandon Decker, Oakland, Jr.
  • Cade Denton, Oral Roberts, Jr.
  • Zach DeVito, Georgia, So.
  • Nate Dohm, Mississippi State, Jr.
  • Jack Dougherty, Ole Miss, Jr.
  • Jay Driver, Harvard, Jr.
  • Triston Dixon, Texas State, Sr.
  • German Fajardo, Kansas State, Jr.
  • Ben Ferrer, Oregon State, Jr.
  • Jack Findlay, Notre Dame, So.
  • Bennett Flynn, Davidson, Sr.
  • Kyle Greenler, Georiga, Sr.
  • Alex Goff, Samford, Sr.
  • Chase Grillo, Washington State, Jr.
  • Stephen Halstead, North Florida, Sr.
  • Nate Hardman, Evansville, Sr.
  • Jared Hart, Illinois State, Sr.
  • Kiernan Higgans, Virginia Tech, Gr.
  • Ryan Higgins, Duke, So.
  • Carson Hobbs, Samford, Jr.
  • Max Huffling, Abilene Christian, Jr.
  • Chase Isbell, Auburn, Sr.
  • Luke Jewett, UCLA, So.
  • Will Johnston, Texas A&M, Jr.
  • Jacob King, UC Irvine, R-Jr.
  • Sam Klein, Ball State, Jr.
  • Trevor Long, Arizona, Jr.
  • Nick Maldonado, Vanderbilt, Sr.
  • Alden Mathes, Richmond, R-Jr.
  • Reid McLaughlin, BYU, Sr.
  • Nolan McLean, Oklahoma State, Jr.
  • Jakob Meyer, Evansville, Sr.
  • Jarrett Miller, Morehead State, Gr.
  • Kyle Miller, Southeast Missouri, Jr.
  • Simon Miller, UTSA, Jr.
  • Camden Minacci, Wake Forest, So.
  • Josh Molerus, Oregon, Sr.
  • Braden Montgomery, Stanford, So.
  • Mason Nichols, Ole Miss, So.
  • Aaron Nixon, Mississippi State, So.
  • Jack Pawloski, Massachusetts, Gr.
  • William Privette, Charleston, Jr.
  • Blake Purnell, Florida, R-So.
  • Nik Pry, North Carolina, Sr.
  • Dalton Rhadans, Georgia, Sr.
  • River Ridings, TCU, Jr.
  • Zane Robbins, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
  • Andrew Ronne, East Tennessee State, So.
  • Garrett Saylor, East Carolina, Sr.
  • Thomas Schultz, Vanderbilt, Sr.
  • Camden Sewell, Tennessee, Gr.
  • Daniel Shafer, UTSA, Jr.
  • Noah Short, West Virginia, Sr.
  • Jonah Smith, UAB, Gr.
  • Noah Stants, Oakland, Sr.
  • Matthew Steidl, Southern Illinois, Sr.
  • Luke Stephens, Wofford, Sr.
  • Jett Thielke, Belmont, Jr.
  • Jay Thompson, Georgia Southern, Sr.
  • Brady Tygart, Arkansas, So.
  • Crawford Wade, Wake Forest, Jr.
  • Andrew Walters, Miami (Fla.), Jr.
  • Holden Wilder, Wofford, Jr.
  • Jay Woolfolk, Virginia, So.
  • Garrett Wright, TCU, Jr.
  • Jack Zalasky, Sacramento State, Sr.

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, UCLA’s Holden Powell in 2019 and Arkansas’ Kevin Kopps in 2021. Texas State closer Tristan Stivors collected the honor in 2022. 

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.