DALLAS – The move toward the 159th season of intercollegiate baseball and the eventual winner of the coveted Dick Howser Trophy has begun with the selection of the 17th annual All-America first, second and third teams.
With 17 returnees from the 2016 postseason NCBWA All-America squad and strong representation from teams in the 2016 NCAA Division I World Series, the elite squad features a first team pitching staff with a composite record of 65-13 for six standouts and 15 position players or designated hitters with 10-plus home runs.
Eighteen different conferences are represented, along with nine conference championships teams and 23 NCAA Regional squads. The three All-America squads are filled with 2016 conference players and pitchers of the year.
Pacing the 2017 preseason team is 2016 Dick Howser Trophy recipient Seth Beer of Clemson. The ’16 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and consensus All-America choice became the first freshman ever to rein in the Howser Trophy after batting .369 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI to win the ACC Triple Crown for hitting.
Among the top-notch first team pitching staff, righthander Andrew Beckwith of defending NCAA champion Coastal Carolina (winning its first NCAA team title in any sport and the first DI championship by any school in the Big South Conference) leads the way with a 15-1 overall record and 1.85 earned run average. Fellow top honorees Alex Faedo (13-3) of Florida and Kade McClure (12-0) of Louisville are among the NCAA’s best returnees in terms of total victories. The four first-team relief hurlers had a total of 48 saves, 22-7 record and earned run averages under 2.65.
Besides Beer, the first-team outfield has the Southeastern Conference’s ’16 batting average leader in Jake Mangum (.408), All-Big West standout Keston Hiura (.358-7 homers-41 RBI) and All-SEC OF Jeren Kendall (.332-9-59) of Vanderbilt.
Returning first team NCBWA All-America 2B Brian Mims of UNC Wilmington returns as a top tier selection, while Louisville’s McClure and first team utility player Brendan McKay (.333-6-41, 12-4 pitching record, 2.30 ERA) both garnered pre-2017 honors to their similar 2016 NCBWA laurels. Half the starting infield group features Mims and first team 1B Nick Feight (.349-21-91) – both of UNCW.
TCU, rated No. 1 nationally in several preseason surveys and a participant in two of the last three NCAA World Series, landed DH Luken Baker (.379-11-62) on the first team, along with second team relief pitcher Durbin Feltman, second team 3B Evan Barzilli and third team starting pitcher Brian Howard for head coach Jim Schlossnagle’s crew.
Previous NCBWA All-America teams from 1996-2016 also have featured the likes of 3B Kris Bryant of San Diego, P Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State, 1B Mark Teixeira of Georgia Tech, RHP Mark Prior of USC, SS-2B Rickie Weeks of Southern U., 3B Alex Gordon of Nebraska, P David Price of Vanderbilt, C Buster Posey of Florida State, catcher Mike Zunino of Florida, P-1B A.J. Reed from Kentucky; OF Andrew Benintendi from Arkansas, among others.