Jungmann humbled as Howser winner
Longhorns righty, a Brewers draftee, named Player of Year
OMAHA, Neb. -- Taylor Jungmann got the tip on Monday night that he had been selected as the 25th Dick Howser Award winner and would be the man of the moment on Tuesday morning at a news conference to officially announce the award.
It wasn't until the Texas Longhorns junior right-hander actually got to the podium that the magnitude of the award, which honors college baseball's Player of the Year, hit Jungmann with full force.
"I'm sure you could tell I was a little speechless," Jungmann said when the formalities were over and he was finally able to relax and reflect in the corridor outside the media room at TD Ameritrade Park. "It's just a great honor. You never think of yourself as being in consideration for an award like this. It's a little surreal."
The 6-foot-6 Jungmann let his pitching do the talking all season as the anchor of the Longhorns' staff. He finished the season 13-3 with a 1.60 ERA and was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers with the No. 12 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
Although Jungmann and the Longhorns quickly bowed out of the College World Series with losses to Florida and North Carolina, Jungmann's season-long body of work and off-the-field qualities earned him the award from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association over UCLA junior pitcher Trevor Bauer and Virginia junior pitcher Danny Hultzen.
The Howser Trophy is given in memory of the former Florida State All-America shortstop, Major League player and Major League manager who led the Kansas City Royals to the 1985 World Series title. Criteria for consideration includes performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage. Howser died of brain cancer in 1987.
Jungmann, who was joined at the ceremony by father Leland and mother Sharon, accepted the award from Jana Howser, the daughter of the late Dick Howser.
"Twenty-five years is a pretty extraordinary benchmark," Jana Howser said. "What I absolutely know is that the criteria for which the recipient is selected each year by this national voting body is something [Dick Howser] would champion."
The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's death. The first two winners, Mike Fiore of Miami and Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State, were in attendance on Tuesday.
"I had a chance when I was in college to meet Dick Howser," Fiore said. "When you look back at what Dick Howser stood for in performance, character, leadership and courage, he would be extremely proud today to look at all of the past winners."
Also receiving awards on Tuesday were California's David Esquer, selected as the National Coach of the Year, and Texas reliever Corey Knebel, chosen as the Stopper of the Year.
Esquer not only guided the Golden Bears to the College World Series for the first time since 1992, he provided steady leadership in a year when the California baseball program was almost eliminated because of a financial shortage. Fund-raising efforts at the 11th hour kept the program afloat, and the the Golden Bears rewarded their fans with a Cinderella surge that landed them in Omaha, Neb.
"All of the young men in our program have grown and will be better people and better fathers because of the adversity they've gone through," Esquer said. "I'm humbled by this honor. I'm such a fan of college baseball."
Knebel was chosen Stopper of the Year over a group of finalists that included Branden Kline of Virginia, Kyle McMillen of Kent State, Matt Price of South Carolina and Bo Reeder of East Tennessee State. As a freshman, Knebel went 3-2 with a 1.13 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings.
For Jungmann, the next step will be getting together with the Brewers to discuss a contract. If he has thrown his last pitch as a Longhorn, there will be plenty of college memories to savor, capped by the Howser Trophy selection.
"There are so many people to thank," Jungmann said. "Family, friends, coaches, teammates. Just hearing about the history of the award and the past winners ... having my name called with those guys is unbelievable to me."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.