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Top College Players to Watch

Top College Players to Watch

Feb 1, 2002

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.

With BC-BBC–College Baseball Preview

AP Sports Writer

Top college baseball players to watch this season:

– Michael Aubrey, 1b-of-lhp, Tulane, sophomore. Conference USA freshman of year is one of nation’s top two-way players. Hit .361 with 13 home runs and 69 RBIs, and was 3-1 with 5.15 ERA to lead Green Wave to first College World Series appearance.

– Jeff Baker, 3b, Clemson, junior. Top returning slugger in Division I hit 23 homers last season, one shy of school record. First American to play on four different USA Baseball national teams.

– Bobby Brownlie, rhp, Rutgers, junior. Overpowering righty went 6-3 with 2.36 ERA for Scarlet Knights before going 8-0 for Team USA in summer. Could be first college player selected in June draft.

– Dave Bush, rhp, Wake Forest, senior. Nation’s top returning closer with 16 saves was drafted in fourth round by Tampa Bay, but stayed for final year. School’s career leader with 25 saves and 112 appearances.

– Mike Esposito, rhp, Arizona State, sophomore. Rebounded from Tommy John surgery to emerge as one of nation’s top college right-handers with 6-2 record and 4.17 ERA as redshirt freshman.

– Jeff Francis, lhp, British Columbia, junior. NAIA star went 12-3 with 0.92 ERA and 118 Ks in 92 1-3 innings. MVP of the National Baseball Congress World Series could be just third Canadian drafted in first round.

– Jeremy Guthrie, rhp, Stanford, junior. Anchor of College World Series runner-up’s pitching staff was 13-4 with 2.82 ERA and 128 strikeouts. Pittsburgh’s third-round pick in June is highest-drafted player to return to school this season. Did not touch a baseball from 1999-2000 while on Mormon mission in Spain.

– Bobby Kingsbury, of, Fordham, junior. Atlantic 10 player of year hit .363, set school single-game record with nine RBIs, and tied NCAA single-game mark with eight stolen bases. One of top defensive outfielders in country.

– Shane Komine, rhp, Nebraska, senior. Two-time Big 12 pitcher of year went 14-2 to lead Huskers to first appearance in CWS. Set school record for wins and led conference with 159 Ks and seven shutouts.

– Chris O’Riordan, 2b, Stanford, senior. Former walk-on who had no at-bats as freshman has developed into leader of Cardinal’s offense and outstanding defensive player. Tied for first on school’s career list with .362 batting average.

– Anthony Reyes, rhp, Southern California, junior. Steps out from shadows of Mark Prior, Rik Currier and Barry Zito to become latest USC ace. Went 5-4 last season, but had 97 Ks and just 25 walks in 109 innings.

– Javy Rodriguez, ss, Miami, senior. Led nation with school-record 66 stolen bases and 1.05 steals per game average in helping Hurricanes win CWS. Team MVP hit .382 with five homers and 60 RBIs.

– Michael Rogers, rhp, Oral Roberts, senior. Mid-Continent co-pitcher of year set school record with 137 Ks, while going 14-1 with 2.37 ERA.

– Steve Stanley, of, Notre Dame, senior. Big East player of year hit .400 with 32 RBIs and showed off speed – 31 stolen bases – as one of country’s top leadoff men. Solid defensive player has started every game of college career.

– Rickie Weeks, ss-of, Southern, sophomore. Hit .412 with 14 HRs and 70 RBIs as SWAC freshman of year. Speedster tied for Division I lead with 12 triples.

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