OMAHA, Neb. — Kentucky two-way star A.J. Reed won the Dick Howser Trophy as the top player in college baseball.
Reed was honored Saturday during a ceremony at the College World Series. The Houston Astros’ second-round draft pick hit a nation-leading 23 home runs and had a 12-2 record as a pitcher.
Reed is Kentucky’s first national baseball player of the year and is in line to become the third consensus national player of the year from the Southeastern Conference, along with David Price of Vanderbilt in 2007 and Dave Magadan of Alabama in 1985.
Reed, who plays first base in addition to pitching, batted .336 with 73 RBIs and a .476 on-base percentage this season. He made 16 starts on the mound for Kentucky, had a 2.09 ERA, struck out 71 and walked 29.
The Howser Trophy is given in memory of the former Florida State All-America shortstop and major-league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987.
The writers association also named Louisville’s Nick Burdi the Stopper of the Year and UC Irvine’s Mike Gillespie the coach of the year.
Burdi (3-1) recorded a school-record 18 saves and has an 0.51 ERA. Gillespie led the Anteaters (40-23) to the CWS for the second time after they bounced back from losses in eight of their last nine regular-season games.
Tim Tadlock was named the Skip Bertman National Coach of the Year after leading Texas Tech (45-19) to its first CWS appearance. The award is named for the LSU coach who won five national titles in the 1990s and is presented by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Battle of arms
TCU ranks first nationally in ERA (2.19), WHIP (1.02) and is in the top 10 in strikeouts per nine innings, hits allowed and walks. Coach Jim Schlossnagle seems more impressed with the pitching resume of his team’s opponent Sunday, Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders have an 0.65 ERA with four shutouts in six NCAA tournament games, but their season numbers are nowhere near as impressive as TCU’s.
That didn’t stop Schlossnagle from gigging Tadlock.
“His pitching staff is a pitching staff that I really like because they can do a lot of different things relative to who they’re playing or whatever the matchup is at home plate,” Schlossnagle said. “Honestly with that pitching staff, he probably shouldn’t lose a game here.”
Tadlock interjected: “Can we compare numbers now? Because they say numbers don’t lie, right? His staff ... you’ve got just good arm after good arm.”
TCU and Tech have split four meetings this season. Preston Morrison (9-4, 1.32) will start for TCU against Chris Sadberry (5-3, 3.17).
Take another look
UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie is a proponent for expanded instant replay in the college game, especially after an inning-ending play in the third appeared to cost his team a run.
Connor Spencer grounded deep into the hole behind second base. Texas shortstop C.J. Hinojosa made a diving stop and had difficulty getting on his feet before throwing to first. It looked on TV replays as if Spencer beat the throw, but umpire Doug Williams called him out. Taylor Sparks would have scored on the play.
“Well, I do favor instant replay. I know that not everybody does,” Gillespie said. “I’m really all for getting it right. I would have loved instant replay on that play.”
Instant replay at the CWS is limited to rulings on home runs, foul balls and fan interference.