OMAHA, Neb. (NCBWA) – Four collegiate stars,
including three from 2017 NCAA Super Regional contenders, are the
finalists for the 31st annual Dick Howser Trophy
presented by The Game Headwear. Balloting was conducted
by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in conjunction
with the Dick Howser Trophy committee and the St. Petersburg Area
Chamber of Commerce.
Pitcher J.B. Bukauskas of North Carolina, Louisville
P/1B Brendan McKay, Mississippi State 1B
Brent Rooker and Oregon State pitcher Jake
Thompson are the four finalists for the prestigious 31st
annual awarding of the Dick Howser Trophy.
This outstanding group of players hails from four schools
in three different conferences and covers ground from coast to coast.
All four players are juniors and are from schools that have not
had a previous winner of the Dick Howser trophy.
The winner will be announced on Saturday, June 17, at a 10 a.m.
(CDT) national news conference at TD Ameritrade Park – home of the
71st annual NCAA World Series.
Each finalist embodies the major principles of character, leadership,
desire, and competitive spirit exhibited by Dick Howser, the All-America
shortstop and later head coach at Florida State before managing
the Kansas City Royals to the world championship in 1985. He also
is the namesake for Dick Howser Stadium at FSU.
Bukauskas, a junior righthanded starter from Ashburn, Va., was
the go-to weekend hurler for the Tar Heels of coach Mike Fox, and
racked up a 9-1 overall record with a 2.53 in 15 starts for the
NCAA-bound UNC nine. He recorded well over one strikeout per inning
pitched with 116 whiffs in 92-plus innings pitched.
The All-America and 2017 All-Atlantic Coast Conference choice
has been part of the North Carolina rotation for three consecutive
years and limited opponents to a .188 batting mark. His clutch conference
pitching work kep the Tar Heels in contention all season for the
McKay, a junior from Darlington, Pa., is 9-3 as a pitcher with
a 2.31 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 97.1 innings in ‘17. He has tied
the Louisville career mark for strikeouts with 376 in just three
campaigns with Kyle Funkhouser (who played at U of L from 2013-16)
and is among the top hitters nationally in the cleanup position
with a .356 average, 17 home runs and 56 RBI.
The 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and first
team All-American also tied a school record with four home runs
in one game against Eastern Kentucky. The Cardinals of Coach Dan
McDonnell are 50-10 entering the weekend NCAA Super Regional matchup
with cross-state rival Kentucky. McKay also is a two-time recipient
of the prestigious Jon Olerud Award for best multi-position player
in NCAA Division I in 2015 and ’16.
First baseman Rooker of Germantown, Tenn., was the 2017 Southeastern
Conference Player of the Year with a .395 batting average, 23 home
runs, 82 RBI, and NCAA-DI-most 30 doubles. The first team All-America
choice is bidding to become the conference’s first Triple Crown
(average, homers, RBI) winner since Rafael Palmeiro of MSU in 1984.
Rooker also has committed just one error in 419 total fielding
chances at first base and is among SEC leaders in stolen bases with
18 in 23 attempts. His .827 slugging percentage tops the conference
for the 40-25 Bulldogs of coach Andy Cannizaro as they travel to
LSU for the 2017 NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional.
Thompson, a junior righty from Florence, Ore., is the pitching
victories’ leader for the most successful DI team nationally with
that 52-4 overall mark before taking on Vanderbilt. His 13-0 record
helped OSU roll to a 29-1 home mark in ’17 while he added 106 strikeouts
in 110-plus innings of work and a microscopic 1.30 ERA.
The Oregon State co-ace with Luke Heimlich earned All-Pac-12
laurels as well as All-America recognition while he assisted the
Beavers in rolling through the NCAA Corvallis Regional with a 3-0
mark. Thompson also played a leading role in OSU’s final 27-3 worksheet
in Pac-12 games – a conference team season record.
Recent finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy have included the
likes of 2016 standouts Clemson OF Seth Beer (winner, first freshman
to receive Dick Howser Trophy), Wake Forest 3B Will Craig, Louisville
UTIL Brendan McKay, Kent State P Eric Lauer, and Texas A&M 3B
Boomer White; and 2015 aces Arkansas OF Andrew Benintendi (winner),
UCLA RP David Berg, Vanderbilt SP Carson Fulmer, Vanderbilt SS Dansby
Swanson, and Miami (Fla.) 3B David Thompson.
The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's
death. Previous winners of the Howser Trophy are Mike Fiore, Miami,
1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryant, Texas,
1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College South, 1990;
Frank Rodriguez, Howard College (Texas), 1991; Brooks Kieschnick,
Texas, 1992 and 1993; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton,
Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J. D. Drew, Florida
State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999;
Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 2000; Mark Prior, P, USC, 2001, Khalil
Greene, SS, Clemson, 2002; Rickie Weeks, 2B, Southern U., 2003;
Jered Weaver, P, Long Beach State, 2004; Alex Gordon, 3B, Nebraska,
2005; Brad Lincoln, P/DH, Houston, 2006; David Price, P, Vanderbilt,
2007; Buster Posey, C, Florida State, 2008; Stephen Strasburg, P,
San Diego State, 2009; Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice, 2010; Taylor Jungmann,
P, Texas, 2011; Mike Zunino, C, Florida, 2012; Kris Bryant, 3B,
San Diego, 2013; A.J. Reed, Kentucky, 2014; Andrew Benintendi, Arkansas,
2015; Seth Beer, Clemson, 2016.
2017 Dick Howser Trophy:
• Thu., May 18: Dick Howser Trophy semifinalists announced
• Thu., June 1: The Game Headwear to sponsor Dick Howser Trophy
• Thu., June 8: Dick Howser Trophy finalists announced
• Sat., June 17: Dick Howser Trophy presented at College World Series
• More on the Dick Howser Trophy