Krauth Named Newcomer of the Year, Seven Earn Big 12 Honors
LAWRENCE, Kan. – If there was a silver lining to a Kansas baseball season that included a sub-.500 record and a ninth-place finish in the Big 12 standings, it would be left-handed pitcher Ben Krauth. The junior college transfer was named the Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year, in addition to being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, as one of seven Jayhawks honored by the league Tuesday in preparation for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.
Krauth, who attended Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill, California) for two seasons before coming to Kansas, was named among the conference’s top players along with senior left fielder Connor McKay, who earned All-Big 12 First Team honors, sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley, who earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selections senior first baseman Blair Beck, senior second baseman Justin Protacio, sophomore closer Stephen Villines and freshman shortstop Matt McLaughlin.
“I was thrilled for Krauth when I found out he won Big 12 Newcomer of the Year,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He is very deserving of this honor. If he can keep improving and pick up where he left off, he will help put us back into the playoffs. I can’t wait to be able to run him back out there next year.”
Krauth finished his first Big 12 season with a 3-3 record and 2.45 ERA in eight conference starts. In 55 innings pitched, the southpaw struck out 54 batters and held opponents to a .236 batting average. His 54 strikeouts in conference play ranked first, while his 2.45 ERA ranked seventh. Krauth received Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors (April 27) after a dominating performance at West Virginia (April 24).
“(Winning this award) makes you feel like you belong,” Krauth said. “From the beginning of the season until now, I feel like I matured a lot. In junior college I had it all figured out and then coming here, I struggled a bit at first. Coach Price and (associate head coach Ryan) Graves stuck with me for a while and let me do my thing and figure it out.”
McKay became the third-straight Jayhawk to earn first-team recognition by the league and the first position player to do so since 2010 (Robby Price, 2B), as he ranked among the top-10 in hits (third) with 79, runs scored (third) with 45, doubles (first) with 22, total bases (second) with 122, slugging percentage (fifth) at .535 and batting average (seventh) at .346.
“I am really pleased McKay earned first-team recognition,” Price said. “He finally put a complete season together and played up to his full potential.”
Alongside Krauth, Tinsley helped continue a streak of five-straight years of a KU player earning second-team recognition, as he was a unanimous selection at catcher. Tinsley finished the season with a .337 batting average, which ranked ninth in the league, and 39 RBIs that ranked third. His 15 doubles ranked fourth while his 66 hits were good enough for eighth-best in the conference.
“I was also thrilled for Tinsley,” Price said. “To be recognized by the conference in your first full season behind the plate speaks volumes to the kind of player he is. I expect him to be a first-team honoree next year.”
Among the four honorable mention honorees, McLaughlin became the second-straight Jayhawk to earn a spot on the All-Big 12 Freshman Team, which started in 2011. A unanimous selection, McLaughlin finished his rookie campaign with a .310 batting average in conference play including 26 hits, four doubles and a .396 on-base percentage. For the season, he batted .293 with eight doubles, a home run, 25 RBIs and drew 26 walks.
“I believe he (McLaughlin) had the second-most votes among the all-freshman squad,” Price said. “He played at a high level all season. What I am most excited for is the future. With Krauth, Tinsley and McLaughlin, they will all get better. The progress they made this season is outstanding. Those three guys have a chance to lead us back into the playoffs next year.”
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.