University of Louisville junior lefthanded pitcher and first baseman Brendan McKay was named Friday as the 31st recipient of the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player. The announcement, presented by the Howser Trophy committee and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, was made during a live segment on MLB Network from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
McKay is the first Louisville player to win the Dick Howser Trophy and the eighth student-athlete from the Atlantic Coast Conference to receive the trophy. Friday’s announcement marked the fifth National Player of the Year award in 2017 for McKay, who received the same honor from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball newspaper, D1Baseball and Perfect Game. The Darlington, Pennsylvania also earned his third straight John Olerud Two-Way National Player of the Year Award and became the highest MLB Draft selection in school history going fourth overall to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Brendan McKay is a unique individual in college baseball as a two-position player, excelling nationally as both a pitcher and first baseman,” said Howser Trophy committee chair David Feaster. “He is a proven leader and exceptional student-athlete throughout his career at Louisville and has carried the Cardinals to the cusp of the 2017 NCAA baseball championship. And he certainly embodies the Dick Howser traits of excellent performance on the field, leadership, moral character, and courage.”
McKay has a 10-3 record with a 2.34 ERA and a school record 140 strikeouts in 104.0 innings on the mound this season. During his three-year collegiate career, McKay has accumulated a 31-10 record with a 2.15 ERA and 385 strikeouts, the most ever for a Louisville pitcher. At the plate, the 2017 ACC Player of the Year has a .343 batting average, 17 home runs, 13 doubles, 56 RBIs and a .464 on-base percentage in 60 starts as a hitter this season. In 179 career starts and 186 total appearances as a hitter, McKay has a .328 career batting average with 27 home runs, 46 doubles and 131 RBIs.
The two-way standout has been consensus All-America in both 2016 and ’17 as well as 2016 and ’17 NCAA Louisville Regional All-Tournament. In 2017, he was named NCBWA District III Player of the Year. He has paced head coach Dan McDonnell’s squad to their first NCAA World Series appearance since 2014 (fourth in school history, all under McDonnell since 2007), has been All-ACC each of the last two seasons, 2015 Collegiate Baseball, D1Baseball and Perfect Game Freshman of the Year and 2015 NCBWA Freshman All-America.
McKay was joined as a 2017 Howser Trophy finalist by pitcher J.B. Bukauskas of North Carolina, Mississippi State first baseman Brent Rooker and Oregon State pitcher Jake Thompson on an elite list of top candidates. NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists. Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport’s only college media-related organization, founded in 1962.
A Florida native, Howser was twice an All-America shortstop at Florida State (1957-58), then head coach of the Seminoles in 1979 after a career as a Major League player and coach. After one year in the college ranks, he returned to the majors to manage the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals and won the World Series with the Royals in 1985. The baseball stadium on the Florida State campus is named for Howser.
The No. 7 national seed Cardinals (52-10) will continue their season at the 2017 College World Series against Texas A&M on Sunday at 2 p.m., ET at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
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