UCSB catcher Eric Yang named as one of three finalists for Buster Posey catcher award
The postseason awards keep rolling in for the 2019 UCSB baseball team, the latest an affirmation of just how great Eric Yang was this season.
The junior catcher was named a finalist for the prestigious Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award, just one of three catchers to make the final cut.
The other two finalists are Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman (the top pick in Monday’s MLB Draft) and Georgia Tech junior Kyle McCann.
“This is a really big deal,” UCSB coach Andrew Checketts said. “It’s really good company for him to be in. It also says a lot about the year he had and his development.”
Yang was humbled by the honor.
“It’s awesome to be on the same list as (Rutschman),” Yang said.
Yang was already named the Big West Conference’s Field Player of the Year and a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, being rewarded for hitting .386 over 56 starts, including 46 behind the plate.
Yang added seven home runs and 45 RBIs hitting in one of the top three spots in the Gauchos’ lineup all season.
The West Hills native credited new associate head coach Donegal Fergus in helping him establish a new approach at the plate.
“Ferg told us to not get cheated,” Yang said. “I put full effort into my swings, got the ball off the ground and into the air.
“He told us that it doesn’t matter how you do it, there are a lot of right ways to do it, just do the job.”
And Yang was more than up to the task with the Gaucho pitching staff, calling more than 90 percent of the pitches himself, resulting in a staff ERA of 3.30.
In doing so, Yang also posted a .993 fielding percentage and threw out 10 of 30 runners attempting to steal.
A year after hitting .244 over 119 at-bats, Checketts believes Yang’s growth is indicative of what any incoming recruit can expect at UCSB – to grow, on and off the field.
“It definitely elevates the profile of the program,” Checketts said. “It’s something we get to use when we are recruiting. When you come here, you are able to develop, get better and improve. From where Eric’s profile was coming out of high school to where it is now, that’s something to hang our hat on.”
While Yang waits for his name to be called at the MLB Draft – “No nerves, I’ve done everything I can do leading up to this” – he was quick to point to the entire team for putting UCSB baseball back on the map.
“It was the team helping the program get a name for itself, it was bigger than any one individual,” Yang said.
The final vote for the Buster Posey Award takes place during the College World Series, with the winner announced in Wichita, Kan. on June 27.
Checketts will have a pair of bittersweet days in front of him, as projections have his UCSB squad with up to 12 players being drafted – which would eclipse the school record of 10 in 2015.
“Our guys had good years, that’s exciting and the sweet part,” Checketts said. “Potentially losing that many guys is the bitter part.”
Junior southpaw Jack Dashwood joined Yang on the Collegiate Baseball All-American team, garnering second-team honors after a 9-2 campaign that saw him post a 2.48 ERA.
Dashwood and Yang are the first UCSB players to make the Collegiate Baseball All-American teams since pitcher Dillon Tate (second team) in 2015.
TOMMY JEW UPDATE
Junior outfielder Tommy Jew is recovering following Sunday morning surgery to repair a broken tibia and fibula suffered during the Gauchos’ 6-4 loss in the NCAA Regionals on Saturday.
According to Checketts, it was a “clean break,” and doctors expect a full recovery – “it’ll just take time,” Checketts added.