The TCU baseball team didn’t get any respect on the preseason All-Big 12 team, but a local award has its eyes on a couple Horned Frogs going into the 2021 season.
Conner Shepherd and Gene Wood are among 48 players on the watch list for the Fort Worth-based Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award (BBCSA) presented by SR Bats.
Shepherd and Wood are among nine players from the Big 12 on the list, joining Oklahoma’s Peyton Graham, Tanner Tredaway and Tyler Hardman; Texas Tech’s Cal Conley and Dylan Neuse; Texas’ Austin Todd; and Baylor’s Andy Thomas.
Neuse is a Keller Fossil Ridge product who was named the Big 12’s preseason player of the year.
Other Texas-based programs with nominations include UT Arlington’s Conner Aube; Dallas Baptist’s Blayne Jones; Rice’s Braden Comeaux; Sam Houston State’s Colton Cowser and Jack Rogers; and Houston’s Ryan Hernandez.
From a national perspective, there’s a couple notable players on the watch list. Cal’s Darren Baker is the son of Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker. Western Kentucky’s Davis Sims is the grandson of Phil Roof, who played for the 1964 Milwaukee Braves team that was managed by Bragan. That ‘64 team featured players including Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Torre, Warren Spahn and Phil Niekro.
In all, the watch list features 20 seniors, 18 juniors, eight sophomores and two freshmen.
Tracy Taylor, the executive director of the BBCSA, described the watch list as “loaded” and said the organization received a record number of nominations.
“The abrupt ending of the 2020 season, the shortened MLB Draft, and an extra season of eligibility have all changed some of the dynamics of the watch list from previous years,” Taylor said. “The watch list has traditionally been dominated by juniors, but this year we have more seniors than ever before and they headline an outstanding list for 2021 that has garnered more than 80 All-American and All-Conference honors.”
The award is based on performance at the plate, academics and personal integrity. It became a national award last season, but no winner was announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic that cut short the college baseball season.
The last winner was Texas Tech’s Josh Jung, the 2019 recipient who was the Texas Rangers’ first-round pick that year.
The winner will be announced in June and then honored at a gala in the fall at the Fort Worth Club.