2019 Brooks Wallace Award finalists released
Five shortstops are now vying to be named the best in the country
LUBBOCK, Texas -- They might not be household names across the college baseball world, but they have emerged as the top shortstops in the nation.
The list of five finalists for the Brooks Wallace Award, given each year by the College Baseball Foundation to the best shortstop in the country, represents large and small schools, powerhouses and up-and-coming programs, and three teams represented in the NCAA tournament this week.
The five finalists are junior Joseph Ortiz from New Mexico State, junior Will Wilson from North Carolina State, junior Bryson Stott from UNLV, junior Grae Kessinger of Mississippi and junior Nick Grande from Stony Brook.
"What a task it has been to whittle it down this season," said co-chair Tom Quigley. "We have conference players of the year, first-team all-conference representatives and defensive players of the year. We have quality shortstops from five different conferences for the first time in our list of finalists. We feel like we are down to the cream of the crop right now."
The award honors the nation's top shortstop and will be presented this summer by the College Baseball Foundation. It is named for former Texas Tech shortstop Brooks Wallace, who played for the Red Raiders from 1977 to 1980. Wallace died of leukemia at the age of 27.
Here is a closer look at the five finalists:
- • Joseph Ortiz, Jr., New Mexico State: No shortstop in the country put up bigger offensive numbers than Ortiz, the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He hit .422 in 55 games with eight home runs and 84 RBI while compiling a .973 fielding percentage.
- • Will Wilson, Jr., North Carolina State: Defense is an important aspect for a shortstop, and Wilson certainly lived up to that billing while compiling impressive offensive numbers. The first-team All-ACC selection and conference Defensive Player of the Year, Wilson hit .346 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI with a .967 fielding percentage.
- • Bryson Stott, Jr., UNLV: The Tony Gwynn Co-Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference, Stott was stellar all season long for the Rebels. He hit .356 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 58 games while compiling a .969 fielding percentage.
- • Grae Kessinger, Jr., Mississippi: In an extremely talented SEC, Kessinger was a consistent force all season in leading the Rebels to a No. 12 overall national seed and a berth in the SEC tournament title game. He hit .336 with five home runs and 46 RBI to go along with a .966 fielding percentage.
- • Nick Grande, Jr., Stony Brook: The Seawolves are back in the NCAA playoffs and again look to make a run. If that happens, Grande will play a major part just like he did during the regular season, when he hit .342 with five home runs and 24 RBI while compiling an impressive .982 fielding percentage.
For more information on the Brooks Wallace Award or the College Baseball Hall of Fame's Night of Champions, visit www.collegebaseballhall.org.