LUBBOCK, Texas – Six weeks into the most anticipated season in recent college baseball history, the field is taking shape for the 10th annual John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, as evidenced by the 2021 watch list released Tuesday by the College Baseball Foundation.
The deep pool of talent resulting from several veteran players returning for an extra season granted by the NCAA in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus the influx of new talent from the last two seasons, has created a unique pool of 17 top candidates for the 2021 Olerud watch list. The list also includes teammates from two Power 5 schools, three players who have already been honored with the Olerud Player of the Week award and four players who were on the watch list for the 2019 award.
“By not having a full season last year, the talent pool for the John Olerud Award has brought about only a few familiar names with a tremendous influx of new talent,” said George Watson, chairman of the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year selection committee. “What we’re also finding out is that, with the expanded rosters in college baseball, the talent pool is so thick that many coaches who relied on two-way players in the past are not having to do so. So the players on this year’s list are truly some of the top athletes in college baseball and are making tremendous impacts both on the mound, at the plate and in the field.”
The award is named for former Washington State University standout John Olerud, who achieved success both as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher during the late 1980s. He was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. The award will be presented by the College Baseball Foundation later this summer.
Headlining the list this year are four players who have already distinguished themselves by earning the Olerud Player of the Week honor.
Entering this past weekend, senior infielder/right-hander Garrett Delano at Mercer is hitting .322 with four home runs and 18 RBI, and on the mound is 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA and seven walks with 28 strikeouts. Junior Andrew Terrell at Appalachian State is hitting .222 and is 1-1 in three appearances.
Florida State left-hander Parker Messick, a freshman, is hitting .296 with a home run and five RBI, and on the mound is 2-2 in five starts with a 3.00 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 27 innings. Nebraska junior infielder/right-hander Spencer Schwellenbach is hitting .333 in 15 starts with a home run and six RBI, and on the mound has recorded three saves in four appearances with five strikeouts in four innings.
Veteran hurler Davis Sharpe, who was on the 2019 watch list as a freshman, is one of two players from Clemson on the list. Sharpe, a right-hander/first baseman, is hitting .208 with a pair of RBI, and on the mound is 2-1 in four starts with 27 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. Joining him on the list is teammate and freshman first baseman/right-hander Caden Grice, who is hitting .338 with six home runs and 25 RBI and has made a pair of mound appearances.
The other pair of teammates come from the Big 12 in senior outfielder/right-hander Caleb Littlejim and sophomore outfielder/left-hander Dylan Phillips at Kansas State. Littlejim is a fixture in the outfield for the Wildcats and is 1-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 12.2 innings on the mound. Phillips is one of the top hitters in the Big 12 with a .330 average, five home runs and 25 RBI and has made three appearances on the mound with four strikeouts.
Also from the Big 12 is lanky freshman right-hander/infielder Justin Campbell from Oklahoma State. Campbell is hitting .269 in 17 games, and on the mound is 3-0 with a 0.55 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 33 innings.
Some of the best numbers are being put up by freshman infielder/right-hander Chris Veach at Presbyterian College. Veach is hitting .458 with a home run and four RBI and has compiled a 1.04 ERA with a pair of saves over 8.2 innings with seven strikeouts.
“We are extremely excited about this year’s class and can’t wait to see how the rest of the season plays out for these guys,” Watson said. “We are also excited to be playing games again after last year and look forward to what the rest of the 2021 season holds for everyone.”
For more information on the Olerud Award, visit the College Baseball Foundation website at www.collegebaseballhall.org.
2021 JOHN OLERUD TWO-WAY PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD WATCH LIST
|Justin Campbell||Fr.||Oklahoma State||Big 12|
|Alex Dorethy||Jr.||Western Illinois||Summit|
|Andrew Eppinger||Jr.||NJIT||American East|
|Jordan Hamburg||Fr.||Coppin State||Mid-Eastern|
|Caleb Littlejim||Sr.||Kansas State||Big 12|
|Mitch McIntyre||Sr.||BYU||West Coast|
|Alvin Melendez||Sr.||Fordham||Atlantic 10|
|Parker Messick||Fr.||Florida State||ACC|
|Shane Muntz||Jr.||Wake Forest||ACC|
|Dylan Phillips||So.||Kansas State||Big 12|
|Spencer Schwellenbach||Jr.||Nebraska||Big 10|
|Andrew Terrell||Jr.||Appalachian State||Sun Belt|
|Chris Veach||Fr.||Presbyterian College||Big South|
|Nathan Webb||Jr.||UC-Riverside||Big West|