Two Mizzou Baseball players garner preseason recognition
COLUMBIA - For the first time since 2009, Missouri Baseball has received recognition by USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List.
Two Tigers, sophomore starting pitcher Tanner Houck and junior shortstop Ryan Howard, were named to the list Tuesday. This is the first time a Mizzou player has been selected to the preseason list since current Minnesota Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson seven years ago.
Houck went 8-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 2015, including two wins over top-5 opponents. The performance earned him a spot on the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List and also a place as a Freshman All-American and All-SEC Freshman Team recognition.
Howard hit .308 with five home runs, 13 doubles and 39 RBIs during the 2015 season. His .308 batting average led the Tigers and he also was the team-leader in at-bats (224) and total bases (97).
Both players extended their 2015 season after being named to USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team.
As the No. 1 starter in the rotation, Houck led Team USA in innings (16.2) and strikeouts (14) and threw 4.1 innings in a combined no-hitter of Team Cuba. After being drafted in the 31st round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the San Francisco Giants in June, Howard elected to stay at Missouri. This allowed him to join Houck on Team USA, hitting .310 with a home run, three RBIs and scored six runs in 17 games.
The 2016 Missouri Baseball season opener is Friday at 2 p.m. in Fort Myers, Florida against Seton Hall, the first of a four-game non-conference series.