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Bo's Baseball Bites Special Edition: Howser Trophy Race In Home Stretch



Many Leading Candidates Coming This Week

To A Conference Tournament Near You


DALLAS – Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State…Brooks Kieschnick (only two-time winner in 1992 and ’93) of Texas…Rickie Weeks of Southern U….Adley Rutschmann of Oregon State…Todd Helton of Tennessee…Buster Posey of Florida State…Brady Singer of Florida…Alex Gordon of Nebraska…Anthony Rendon of Rice…


These names jump off the page as some of the greats, among others, who competed on both the college playing fields and in the professional ranks, and they share a common bond.


They have been awarded the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy presented by The Game Headwear since the 1987 season, and they will be followed by a cavalcade of greats from the 2024 NCAA Division I ranks as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association voting membership for the kudos prepares to select the ’24 recipient and the NCBWA DI-II All-America squadrons.


The 2024 possibilities come from all walks of life and from multi-talented season performances.


Early strong probabilities for the ‘24 finalists, which will denote its 4-5 finalists on June 8 with the winner revealed just prior to the NCAA World Series on June 15 in Omaha, Neb., are impressive and in fairly large numbers.


One very solid prospect for the national laurel is Georgia superstar Charlie Condon with numbers impressive on every level through games of May 15: 50 games, .454 batting average, 1.082 slugging percentage, 88-for-174 at the plate, 18 doubles, 34 home runs, and 72 RBI as headliner for the nation’s No. 6 team in the current NCBWA Top 25 survey.


Another sterling performer is Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith, who once fanned 17 consecutive hitters in an early-season clash. The product of tiny Bullard (Texas) HS enters the weekend with a SEC-best 1.65 earned run average, 9-0 record, all Thursday or Friday night starts for UA, 71 innings pitched, 136 strikeouts, 17.2 whiffs per nine innings, a .139 batting average by opponents, and only 29 walks.


Hard to beat those dominating stats on any level…


Also from the SEC ranks is fellow superstar Jac Caglianone, with stellar showings from both the mound, at first base and as a designated hitter. The star lefthander on offense has a .418 batting average through 51 skirmishes, 82-for-196 at the plate, 28 home runs, 55 RBI, 169 total bases, a .862 slugging percentage, only 18 strikeouts, and a .990 fielding percentage with just three errors in 305 total chances at first and on the hill.


On the mound, the UF great is 5-1 with a 4.07 ERA, 59 2/3 innings, 66 strikeouts, and a .214 opponents’ batting mark.


If those youngsters were not impressive enough, add in Oregon State’s Travis Bazzana with mind-boggling statistics of a .424 batting average, 75 runs, 75 hits, 11 doubles, four triples, 26 home runs, 60 RBI. And a .972 slugging percentage for a Beavers crew ranked among the Top 10 in the country throughout the campaign.


And other star pitchers and top candidates for the Howser Trophy with shutdown showings have been Samford’s Michael Ross, with a nation-co-high 11 wins (11-0 mark) and rubber-armed 81-plus innings in his first 13 starts; North Carolina starter Matthew Matthjis at 11-3 overall; DBU’s Ryan Johnson with a 9-2 mark and 137 strikeouts in 90-plus innings; and UC Santa Barbara’s Tyler Bremner, at 10-0 keeping the Gauchos in strong contention for a postseason NCAA bid, if they don’t win the Big West Conference regular-season crown (the BWC does not play a postseason tourney for the automatic NCAA bid).


At any rate, fans can follow the exploits of these shining stars of college baseball, many on display in their conference tournaments this week, and see if they are able to join that pantheon of diamond dandies who have worn the Dick Howser Trophy presented by The Game Headwear “crown” since 1987. Postseason success always appears tantamount in NCBWA voting as the final ballot for Howser Trophy candidates is distributed in coming days.


Previous winners of the Howser Trophy presented by The Game Headwear have been:


Mike Fiore, Miami (Fla.), 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 & 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, P/1B, Kentucky, 2014

Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas, 2015

Seth Beer, OF, Clemson, 2016

Brendan McKay, P/1B, Louisville, 2017

Brady Singer, SP, Florida, 2018

Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon 2019


(no winner in 2020)

Kevin Kopps, RP, Arkansas, 2021

Ivan Melendez, 1B, Texas, 2022

Paul Skenes, P, LSU, 2023


Bo Carter is the Executive Director of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and is a long time professional in sports media and information. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and has plied his trade in the Southeastern Conference, the Southwest Conference, and the Big 12 Conference. In addition to his NCBWA duties, he also serves as a consultant and columnist for the National Football Foundation. Follow the NCBWA, which produces ranking polls for D1, D2, and D3, as well as naming All America teams at both the D1 and D2 levels and the Dick Howser Trophy (presented each year in Omaha at the Men’s College World Series) at @NCBWA. And, if you’re a college baseball fan, you don’t have to be media to be a member, check them out at ncbwa.com and join today!

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