College : : Story
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Midseason College Honors

Patrick Ebert         Mike Rooney        
Photo: Illinois Athletics




Perfect Game Top 25 | Player/Pitcher of the Week | College Player Database

With seven weekends behind us and seven more to be played during the 2018 regular season we are officially at the halfway point. Conference tournaments and postseason play extends that season, important to point out considering conference play just began across the country. Because of that it's time to hand out some hardware, recognizing two full Midseason All-America teams as well as a Midseason Player, Pitcher, Freshman, Coach and Team of the Year.

Not surprisingly some of the nation's very best teams also boast some of the nation's very best players/performers. Six teams had multiple players listed on the two 17-team Midseason All-American teams, including No. 1 Florida (Jonathan India and Michael Byrne), No. 2 Stanford (Kris Bubic, Jack Little), No. 4 Oregon State (Adley Rutschman, Trevor Larnach) and No. 5 NC State (Brett Kinneman, Brian Brown). Stetson (Logan Gilbert, Brooks Wilson) and UNLV (Kyle Isbel, Bryson Stott) also have two players represented.

Of the 34 total players recognized, 23 play for teams that are either currently ranked in the Top 25 or were at some point this season.

A week or two ago it looked as though the Midseason Player of the Year was going to be Cal's Andrew Vaughn. However, another first baseman, Illinois' Bren Spillane, caught fire within the past month and surpassed Vaughn in almost every statistical category while leading Illinois to a 17-7 record. Although Illinois isn't ranked they have been considered for the Top 25 for several weeks after going a perfect 3-0 at the Dairy Queen Classic in early March with wins over three formidable Pac-12 opponents: UCLA, Arizona and Washington.

Spillane is among the nation's leaders in pretty much every significant offensive category. He leads the nation in total bases (100) and slugging percentage (1.149) and is tied for first in home runs, with Vaughn, at 14. He is second in the nation in both batting average (.494) and on-base percentage (.579), and his 38 RBI are tied for fifth-best. His name also appears among the leaders in hits, runs and doubles, making him the biggest threat at the plate so far during the 2018 season. Spillane has accounted for nearly half of the team's home runs and over a quarter of Illinois' total bases for a squad hitting .281 as a unit.

In addition to Vaughn, Florida's Jonathan India also received serious consideration.

The Midseason Pitcher of the Year is Casey Mize, who has not only been the most impressive pitcher from a performance perspective during the first half of the 2018 college baseball season, but he is also in the running for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft in early June. Similar to Spillane, Mize's numbers are thoroughly impressive, and his overall success is highlighted by the no-hitter he tossed in mid-March. That performance was one error from being a perfect game, as Mize himself did not allow any baserunners to reach, and it also marked the first of three straight performances with double-digit strikeouts.

Mize has recently out-dueled Texas A&M's Stephen Kolek and Mizzou's T.J. Sikkema and is currently 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA. In 47 innings he has allowed just 25 base hits with a remarkable 70-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Auburn is currently ranked 13th in the nation coming off of a series loss against Missouri, and Mize was the only player seriously considered for Midseason Pitcher of the Year honors.

Freshman of the Year honors go to Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who leads a powerful Arkansas offense that currently ranks seventh in the nation in both batting and runs scored. Kjerstad is first on the Razorbacks in the triple slash categories (.396/.492/.679) as well as in hits (42), doubles (9), RBI (30) and total bases (72) while being tied for the team lead in homers, with three others, with seven.

Other players considered for Midseason Freshman of the Year honors include Kjerstad's teammate Casey Martin, LSU righthander Ma'Khail Hilliard and Auburn's Steven Williams, among a small handful of others.

You can always take a few different directions when recognizing the top coach. While there were no shortage of candidates, when having the discussions for the Midseason Coach of the Year one name came to the surface immediately: Stanford's David Esquer.

That isn't to say Stanford's success wasn't predicted, or expected, as the Cardinal opened the year ranked 10th and have steadily climbed ever since. They're currently ranked second, behind only the top-ranked Florida Gators, coming off of a series win over Oregon. Their early season slate, and the subsequent results, have been particularly impressive, with arguably the most challenging non-conference schedule with series wins against Cal State Fullerton, Rice, Michigan and Texas. With a pair of recent mid-week wins over Gonzaga and Santa Clara, Stanford is currently 22-3 as they prepare for another big weekend opponent in No. 21 UCLA in Los Angeles.

Not surprisingly the pitching staff is getting the job done, currently ranked second in the nation with a cumulative 2.21 ERA. The team's four starting pitchers – Tristan Beck, Kris Bubic, Erik Miller and Brendan Beck – are a combined 13-2, and their top two bullpen arms – Jack Little and Jacob Palisch – have 11 saves between them and have allowed only one run in over 40 combined innings of relief.

But what makes Stanford's success especially impressive is that they're winning as a unit, doing so in the first year without long-time head coach Mark Marquess. Esquer was no stranger to Stanford, having both played and coached for them previously, and he also is no stranger to winning, coming to Stanford with 525 career wins as Cal's head coach.

The Midseason Team of the Year is always an easy choice, awarded to the club that currently sits at No. 1 in the nation. That team is the Florida Gators, who opened the year as the top-ranked team and have yet to be knocked off that spot as they defend their National Championship. Head coach Kevin O'Sullivan is one of the best in the business, and the recruiting efforts he and his staff have made have formed an incredible amount of talent in Gainesville, not just this year, but over the past 10-15 years, and that wealth of talent should continue to flow given how highly ranked future recruiting classes are early in the process.

While the Gators have their signature collection of hard-throwing pitchers, highlighted by their ballyhooed, hard-throwing weekend rotation and one of the best closers in the nation, the offense looks significantly different this season from what it did a year ago. Third baseman Jonathan India is enjoying a huge season at the plate and is in the mix for the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's best college baseball player. Senior catcher J.J. Schwarz has re-found his power stroke while Will Dalton, Nelson Maldonado and Deacon Liput have been steady contributors on offense. Centerfielder Nick Horvath seemingly makes at least one highlight reel catch in every game, as the team's defense as a collective unit is also one of the nation's best.

Florida will continue to play in the always-challenging SEC with a huge target on their backs, and while it seems unlikely that they can play the entire season without suffering a weekend series loss, their objective this season is pretty simple: to repeat as National Champions.


Midseason Perfect Game/Rawlings College Baseball Awards:

Player of the Year: Bren Spillane, 1b, Illinois
Pitcher of the Year: Casey Mize, rhp, Auburn
Freshman of the Year: Heston Kjerstad, of, Arkansas
Coach of the Year: David Esquer, Stanford
Team of the Year: Florida Gators


Midseason Perfect Game/Rawlings College Baseball All-American Teams
Statistics for games played through Monday, April 2

First Team

Pos. Player School AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C Adley Rutschman Oregon State .400 .491 .622 21 36 10 2 2 28 1
1B Bren Spillane Illinois .494 .579 1.149 32 43 13 1 14 38 12
2B Kody Clemens Texas .359 .477 .680 26 37 8 2 7 25 3
3B Jonathan India Florida .433 .542 .911 32 39 6 2 11 26 5
SS Tyler Frank Florida Atlantic .330 .458 .651 30 35 8 1 8 15 1
OF Kyle Isbel UNLV .390 .453 .707 33 48 9 3 8 34 4
OF Gage Canning Arizona State .447 .504 .737 26 51 11 8 2 20 4
OF Brett Kinneman NC State .336 .418 .750 25 39 6 3 12 36 3
DH Andrew Vaughn California .467 .598 1.011 34 43 8 0 14 39 2
UT Tristin English Georgia Tech .342 .379 .556 23 40 8 1 5 39 1


Pos. Player School ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB BAA
SP Casey Mize Auburn 2.11 6-0 1 0 47 25 70 3 .152
SP Nick Sandlin Southern Miss 1.31 4-0 0 0 48 27 73 6 .161
SP Mitchell Kilkenny Texas A&M 1.59 6-0 0 0 45.1 32 40 11 .199
SP Chris Holba East Carolina 1.35 6-0 0 0 40 32 42 10 .221
SP Kris Bubic Stanford 0.96 5-0 0 0 37.2 19 42 10 .150
RP Jack Little Stanford 0.00 0-0 0 9 20.1 8 24 4 .123
RP Michael Byrne Florida 0.38 1-0 0 7 24 15 22 2 .176
UT Tristin English Georgia Tech 3.43 1-0 0 1 21 23 20 2 .280


Second Team

Pos. Player School AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C Ryan Jeffers UNC Wilimington .364 .476 .747 27 36 14 0 8 29 1
1B Rylan Thomas UCF .432 .507 .712 36 48 7 0 8 36 2
2B Gabe Holt Texas Tech .398 .514 .566 28 45 6 2 3 19 15
3B Luke Heyer Kentucky .376 .453 .792 29 38 9 0 11 34 6
SS Bryson Stott UNLV .395 .486 .629 34 49 16 2 3 19 7
OF Kevin Strohschein Tennessee Tech .415 .462 .729 27 49 11 1 8 35 0
OF Trevor Larnach Oregon State .347 .458 .694 21 34 10 0 8 36 0
OF Devlin Granberg Dallas Baptist .423 .537 .753 24 41 9 1 7 38 9
DH Kameron Misner Missouri .371 .522 .629 34 39 9 3 4 25 12
UT Aaron Schunk Georgia .303 .384 .404 27 33 7 2 0 17 2


Pos. Player School ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB BAA
SP Logan Gilbert Stetson 2.25 6-0 0 0 48 28 69 13 .169
SP Shane McClanahan South Florida 1.55 3-3 0 0 40.2 23 73 19 .160
SP Jake Irvin Oklahoma 2.27 5-0 0 0 43.2 26 50 13 .165
SP Brian Brown NC State 0.41 4-0 0 0 43.2 28 41 13 .187
SP Kyle Brnovich Elon 1.53 4-0 0 0 47 25 75 19 .156
RP Brooks Wilson Stetson 0.34 1-0 0 12 26.1 14 34 6 .156
RP Parker Caracci Ole Miss 0.89 2-0 0 6 20.1 18 38 3 .237
UT Aaron Schunk Georgia 0.71 1-0 0 3 12.2 8 16 1 .178



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