LUBBOCK, Texas – Brooks Wilson had the chance to take his game to the next level after his junior season when the Texas Rangers drafted him in the 24th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Instead, Wilson decided to take his game to another level in a different way. Passing on playing at the professional level for one more year, Wilson returned to Stetson for his senior season. But in doing so, there was a plan to make him into as effective a hitter as he had been a pitcher.
That plan resulted in Wilson becoming not only one of the Hatters' top hitters but also one of the top closers in college baseball. His 20 saves marks only the 25th time in NCAA history a pitcher has recorded 20 saves in a season, and his efforts helped lead Stetson to the first Super Regional in program history. It also made Wilson a first-team All-American and a seventh-round selection in the 2018 draft by the Atlanta Braves.
That dedication and effort epitomize what it means to be a two-way player, and it's why Wilson is the 2018 winner of the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, presented by the College Baseball Foundation.
"Between his six victories and 20 saves, Brooks Wilson affected the outcome of almost half of Stetson's games, and that's just his impact on the mound," said George Watson, chairman of the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award selection committee. "But beyond the statistics, when Brooks decided to come back for his senior year and committed himself to being a well-rounded player, that exemplifies the dedication we look for in a John Olerud Award winner. We are honored to have Brooks represent this award and look forward to what the future holds for him."
The award is named for the former Washington State University standout who achieved success both as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher during the late 1980s and who was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. The award will be presented by the College Baseball Foundation later this year.
"It is a huge honor to be named he 2018 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year," Wilson said. "I want to thank the College Baseball Foundation for choosing me for this award. There are a tremendous number of college players across the country who compete as every day players and pitchers each year, with their only focus on helping their team win in any way possible.
"I had a lot of fun this year playing both ways, but I am most proud that I was able to help my team enjoy the best season in our program's long history."
A two-time captain for the Hatters, Wilson had a solid junior season to establish himself as one of the nation's leading pitchers going into 2018. But he stepped up his game as a senior and brought his team along with him.
He recorded just 16 at-bats as a junior but showed his offensive skills this year by hitting .299 in 53 games, racking up three home runs and 35 RBI. It was on the mound, however, where he had his biggest impact in helping lead Stetson to the ASUN championship and its first time to host an NCAA regional at Melching Field at Conrad Park.
Wilson finished his senior campaign with a 6-0 record and 2.08 ERA to go with the 20 saves. In 32 appearances, he struck out 69 batters and walked just 19 while giving up 40 hits in 56.1 innings. Teams hit a minuscule .193 off of Wilson.
In addition to the John Olerud Award, Wilson was also named first-team All-America by Perfect Game, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Baseball America and was named the ASUN Player of the Year and first-team All-ASUN. Wilson was also selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA DeLand Regional.
Wilson also was named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, which honors student-athletes in four areas – community, classroom, character and competition, and for the NCBWA's Stopper of the Year Award. Both of those awards will be announced next week in Omaha.
For more information on the Olerud Award of the College Baseball Foundation, visit www.collegebaseballhall.org.
2017: Brendan McKay - Louisville
2016: Brendan McKay - Louisville
2015: Brendan McKay - Louisville
2014: A.J. Reed - Kentucky
2013: Marco Gonzales - Gonzaga
2012: Brian Johnson - Florida
2011: Danny Hultzen - Virginia
2010: Mike McGee - Florida State