Nation's top two-way players recognized on watch list
LUBBOCK, Texas -- As teams begin to set their sights on the postseason, the National College Baseball Hall of Fame announced the first watch list for its 2016 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, which honors the nation's top player who both hits and pitches.
A total of 24 players representing conferences and schools large and small are on the watch list. Included on the list are players from traditional powers such as Louisville, Arizona, Virginia and TCU and encompassing both veteran players and some of the game's new, fresh faces.
"We are thrilled to have such tremendous talent on our initial Olerud watch list for this season," Olerud Award co-chair Chris Curbo said. "We may have last year's award winner back for this season, but that by no means assures he will win it again with such great players to watch out for."
The award is named for the former Washington State University standout who achieved success both as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher during the late 1980s and who was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. The award will be presented as part of the Hall of Fame's Night of Champions celebration July 1-2 in Lubbock.
Headlining this year's watch list is last year's winner, sophomore Brendan McKay of Louisville. The left-hander/first baseman is hitting .315 with three home runs and 23 RBI while taking over the Saturday starting role for the fifth-ranked Cardinals. On the mound he is 7-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings.
But McKay is facing some stiff competition for the award early this year. Wake Forest junior infielder and right-handed pitcher Will Craig is tearing it up at the plate with a .442 average and 10 home runs with 45 RBI while recording five saves and a 1.80 ERA on the mound.
Defending national champion Virginia has two players on the watch list. Sophomore left-hander and outfielder Adam Haseley is 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA. In eight starts he has struck out 33 in 45 innings, and at the plate he is hitting .322 with four home runs and 37 RBI. Teammate Kevin Doherty has a 1.74 ERA in 18 appearances and is hitting .211.
One of the top newcomers on the list is also one of the top freshmen in the nation. TCU first baseman and right-hander Luken Baker is hitting .344 with three home runs and 36 RBI. On the mound he is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings while serving as the Horned Frogs' Friday starter.
"We had a tremendous task in picking last year's winner, and the talent on this year's list tops that," Olerud award co-chair George Watson said. "The incumbent is going to have plenty of company throughout the season to try to repeat as the 2016 winner. It should be a fun group to keep track of as the season progresses."
For more information on the Olerud Award or the College Baseball Hall of Fame's Night of Champions, visit www.collegebaseballhall.org.
2016 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Watch List
|Brandon Gold||Georgia Tech||ACC|
|Will Craig||Wake Forest||ACC|
|Thad Johnson||St. Bonaventure||Atlantic 10|
|Corbin Olmstead||North Florida||Atlantic Sun|
|Carmen Benedetti||Michigan||Big 10|
|Matt Fiedler||Minnesota||Big 10|
|Sheldon Neuse||Oklahoma||Big 12|
|Luken Baker||TCU||Big 12|
|Daniel Brumbaugh||Richmond||Colonial Athletic|
|Dane Myers||Rice||Conference USA|
|Darick Hall||Dallas Baptist||Missouri Valley|
|Trenton Brooks||Nevada||Mountain West|
|Andrew Hinckley||Central Conn. State||Northeast|
|Alex Robles||Austin Peay||Ohio Valley|
|Anthony Herrera||Louisiana-Monroe||Sun Belt|
|Sean Watkins||Loyola-Marymount||West Coast|
|Anthony Gonsolin||St. Mary's (Calif.)||West Coast|