Oregon State's Conforto, Wetzler named Howser Trophy finalists
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — OREGON STATE junior outfielder Michael Conforto and senior left-handed pitcher Ben Wetzler are two of five finalists for the 2014 Dick Howser Trophy presented by Easton Foundations, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association announced Thursday. The award, given to the top player in collegiate baseball, is based on two rounds of national voting.
The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award. Criteria for consideration of the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser's life.
Conforto, a senior from Woodinville, Calif., paced the Beavers in virtually every offensive category in 2014. The two-time first team All-America choice also topped the conference in almost every major category, highlighted by earning the league’s individual batting championship. He started all 59 games for a team ranked No. 1 nationally and the No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA Division I Championship and roped 70 hits in 203 at-bats for a .345 average, seven home runs and 45 RBI for the back-to-back Pac-12 champions, who were 23-7 in Conference play. His 55 walks this season set an Oregon State program record, while he became just the fourth player in Pac-12 history to win Player of the Year in consecutive years. Conforto is expected to be a first-round selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, which opens this evening.
Wetzler, a senior left-handed pitcher from Clackamas, Ore., and two-time All-America selection, dominated hitters as he gave up just nine runs in 104 innings while recording a nation’s-best 0.78 ERA over 14 starts. He also led all Conference starters in opposing batting average, allowing hitters to manage just a .143 average against him. Wetzler joined Conforto, another pre- and postseason All-America choice, in helping the Beavers rule the nation’s polls for several weeks during the campaign for the No. 1 seed in NCAA DI and Corvallis Regional host. Wetzler, a MLB draft pick a year ago, is also expected to hear his name called in the early rounds of the draft this weekend.
Aaron Nola of LSU, Max Pentecost of Kennesaw State and A.J. Reed of Kentucky complete the list of finalists.
For more information on the Dick Howser Trophy, visit www.sportswriters.net/ncbwa.