The Pac-12 has announced its official 2017 All-Conference Baseball Teams. And so, with the regular season barely in the books, the honors continue to pile up for Beaver baseball:
Coach of the Year. Player of the Year. Pitcher of the Year. Defensive Player of the Year. Call it a clean sweep of the top Pac-12 awards, announced today—except for Freshman of the Year—and that’s only the start of it. Six Beavers in total find themselves on the All Pac-12 First Team. Six MORE Beavers earned Honorable Mention.
And that's not even mentioning Drew Rasmussen, who (I oh-so-boldly predict) would've easily been in contention for honors if he'd had anything close to a full workload this year.
So—who won what?
- Nick Madrigal picked up Conference Player of the year honors—for which he will be strongly favored to repeat next year, as a junior and near certain first-round draft pick. Madrigal improved leaps and bounds over his already excellent freshman season, hitting .377 with four homeruns and 15 steals.
- The cat-quick infielder also earned Defensive Player of the Year honors for his play on the diamond, which has drawn rave reviews from everyone from opposing coaches to the national college baseball writers at D1Baseball.com.
- Luke Heimlich—although still in search of a nickname better than “The Maneuver”—took home Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year honors to the surprise of absolutely no one. The junior went 10-1 with a 0.81 ERA and better than 9 strikeouts per 9 IP. He has pitched himself potentially into the first round of this month’s Major League Baseball draft. If this is indeed Luke’s last season in Corvallis, we will miss him terribly.
- Pat Casey, of course, won Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his storied career, and for the first time since 2013. If anything is telling as to the success of Beaver Baseball over the past decade, it’s the fact that this stretch feels like a “drought”.
Joining Madrigal and Heimlich on the Pac-12 First Team we have:
- Jack Anderson – The junior outfielder enjoyed a breakout season in which he hit .312 and played strong defense, with zero (count ‘em) errors.
- Cadyn Grenier – The wizard/shortstop parlayed a .273 average (.307 in conference play) and sparkling defense into postseason honors in 2017.
- KJ Harrison – Harrison makes his third appearance on the All Pac-12 First Team, and will finish his Oregon State career (either this year or next) as one of the most decorated Beavers of all time. This year, the veteran first baseman hit .317 with 5 round trippers and provided a stabilizing presence in the middle of a talented lineup.
- Jake Thompson – Thompson has always oozed talent, and he soared to his potential in 2017, after a couple of inconsistent years to start his career. If there’s been a pitcher as consistently dominant on the West Coast as Luke Heimlich, it’s been Jake Thompson. Thompson sports a perfect 12-0 record, with an ERA of 1.31 (0.88 against Pac-12 teams), and he will start Friday against Holy Cross, on Day One of the Corvallis Regional.
And because that’s not nearly enough:
Sophomore centerfielder Steven Kwan, freshman pitchers Brandon Eisert and Jake Mulholland, freshman catcher Adley Rutchsman, junior third baseman Michael Gretler, and sophomore outfielder/DH Trevor Larnarch earned Honorable Mentions. Steven Kwan also earned a spot on the All-Defensive Team with Nick Madrigal.
That, simply, is a lot of honors. And the crazy part?
The Beavers deserve every bit of praise they reap. They’ve had a season for the ages. They went 27-3 in the Pac-12, which is approximately impossible. They’re chasing the all-time winning percentage record, which is approximately insane. And none of that means a thing, starting tomorrow at the Corvallis Regional.
It’s a new season. Everyone’s record resets at 0-0. Every team is two losses away from going home. Sixty-three out of sixty-four teams *will* go home empty handed.
That includes the Beavers. That includes “us” if you want to put it that way.
But—these honors are deserved. So, tonight we celebrate the 2017 Oregon State Beavers: Regular Season Edition. And tomorrow?
Tomorrow, we play ball.
And, as always, Go Beavs.