Greenville, N.C. (NCBWA) — Creighton baseball senior reliever John Sakowski is one of 70 players named to the 16th Annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List on Monday, Feb. 10th. Expected to anchor the Bluejays’ bullpen this season, Sakowski was 7-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 47.2 innings last season.
UCLA’s Holden Powell, the 2019 Stopper of the Year recipient, along with 2019 finalists Garrett Acton (Illinois) and Tyler Brown (Vanderbilt) headline this year’s group of talented relievers – all three were tabbed as First Team preseason All-Americans. Powell, the second Bruin to win the award since its inception in 2005, boasted a 1.84 ERA with a 4-3 record and notched 17 saves. His save total was tied for second, both in the country in 2019 and in the all-time UCLA single-season record book, trailing only the NCAA-record 24 by David Berg in 2013.
Twelve players recorded double-digit saves a season ago with nine of those earning inclusion on the 2020 NCBWA Preseason All-America team. In total, 22 conferences are represented on this list with at least two players coming from 18 different leagues.
Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007. Georgia’s Joshua Fields topped the field in 2008, San Diego State’s Addison Reed grabbed the honor in 2009 and Texas’ Chance Ruffin earned the honor in 2010. The Longhorns’ Corey Knebel won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana’s Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA’s David Berg was crowned the winner in 2013, Louisville’s Nick Burdi took home the 2014 honor, and Berg became the award’s first two-time winner in 2015. Miami (Fla.)’s Bryan Garcia was honored as the 2016 recipient followed the Cardinal’s Lincoln Henzman in 2017, Florida’s Michael Byrne in 2018 and Powell last year.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation’s top player and the Mike Martin National Coach of the Year to the nation’s top coach. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I, II and III Players of the Week and Division I, II and III Players of the Year.