TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NCBWA) --- Fifty players have been named to the initial watch list for the 10th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, as announced by the association on Tuesday.
UCLA junior David Berg and Mississippi State junior Jonathan Holder headline this year's list of preseason nominees. Berg was the recipient of the Stopper of the Year Award in 2013 after leading the nation with 24 saves, while guiding the Bruins to their first College World Series title. Berg made 51 appearances during his sophomore campaign, finishing the season with a 7-0 record and a 0.92 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 78.0 innings of work. Holder collected 21 saves and a 2-0 record with a 1.65 ERA in 34 games. The Gulfport, Miss., native finished his sophomore season with 90 strikeouts in 54.2 innings as the Bulldogs finished as the national runner-up.
A total of 17 student-athletes on the 2014 preseason watch list tallied at least 12 saves a season ago. Also joining Berg and Holder on the watch list is Louisville's Nick Burdi, who concluded the 2013 season with 16 saves and a 3-3 record with a 0.76 ERA in 35.2 innings of work. Berg, Burdi and Holder were all named preseason first team All-Americans in 2014 by the NCBWA.
Other notable nominees are members of the NCBWA preseason All-American second and third teams, including Ohio State's Trace Dempsey, Vanderbilt's Brian Miller, Mississippi State's Ross Mitchell, Rice's Zech Lemond, Sacramento State's Sutter McLoughlin and Campbell's Ryan Thompson.
The Southeastern Conference led the way with six players named to this year’s watch list, while the Big 12 Conference, Big South Conference, Big Ten Conference, Conference USA and Pac 12 Conference all had four pitchers on the list.
Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relations contacts. The initial list will be updated with a mid-season release the week of April 21, including the national saves leaders. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists and released Wednesday, June 4, prior to start of NCAA Super Regional tournament competition.
The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced during the 2014 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. 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. Knebel won in 2011 with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. Berg of UCLA was crowned the winner in 2013.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I and III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the Year and Division III Players of the Year.
2014 NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List - SEC Candidates