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Aaron Fitt | D1Baseball.com | December 31, 2019

The 17 best ACC college baseball players of the decade from 2010-2019

College World Series Finals: Championship Day with the Virginia Cavaliers

As part of our series looking back on the last decade, we unveiled an All-Decade team for all of college baseball and we’ve assembled All-Decade Teams for each of the power conferences. For this exercise, we tried to balance peak value with career value with bonuses for postseason legacy, taking into account the very different offensive eras that divided the decade (offensive numbers were dramatically depressed when the BBCOR bat standard took effect in 2011, and offense didn’t start to pick up again until the flat-seam ball was introduced in 2015).

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Without further ado, here’s our list of All-Teens Team for the ACC. Virginia and NC State lead the way with three selections apiece:

C: Zack Collins, Miami (2014-16)

Steven Branscombe | USA TODAY Sports Images Miami baseball's Zack Collins following through a swing.

A fearsome slugger for three years, Collins hit 42 career homers and was the centerpiece of Omaha teams in 2015-16. He earned first-team All-America honors his junior season, when he posted a 1.212 OPS. Though he couldn’t match Georgia Tech’s Joey Bart defensively, Collins gets the nod because he turned in three years of high-level production (compared with Bart’s two) and helped the Canes get to Omaha twice.

1B: Will Craig, Wake Forest (2014-16)

Becoming D1Baseball’s 2016 National Player of the Year thanks to his two-way value, Craig played both infield corners and served as a key bullpen piece during his three-year career. But he fits best at first base on this squad. He posted an 1.198 OPS as a sophomore and a 1.251 OPS as a junior, snagging first-team All-America honors both seasons based solely on his offensive production. His bullpen work was a nice bonus, particularly during his junior year.

2B: Will Wilson, NC State (2017-19)

We’re cheating a bit here: Wilson played second base only as a freshman before moving to shortstop for his next two seasons, but he’ll have to settle for the 2B slot on this squad in deference to another Wolfpack star. Wilson hit for average and power three years in a row, defended very well at both middle infield spots and earned second-team All-America honors as a junior, when he posted a 1.089 OPS.

SS: Trea Turner, NC State (2012-14)

A three-year standout who helped lead the Wolfpack to Omaha as a sophomore, Turner posted a career line of .342/.435/.507 with 77 stolen bases in 90 tries during the height of the dead-offense era. He posted back-to-back All-America campaigns as a sophomore and junior, snagging first-team honors in 2014.

3B: Colin Moran, North Carolina (2011-13)

The national Freshman of the Year in 2011, Moran was still productive in an injury-shortened sophomore year. He then earned first-team All-America honors as a junior, when leading UNC to Omaha for the second time in three years. Moran’s .983 career OPS stands out among the best of the first three years of the BBCOR era, when offense went the way of the dinosaur.

OF: Corey Ray, Louisville (2014-16)

As one of the great power/speed dual threats in the ACC this decade, Ray earned All-America honors in each of his two seasons in the ACC (the first two for Louisville as a member of the conference). His career was highlighted by a first-team All-America campaign as a junior, when he slugged 15 homers and stole 44 bases in 44 tries.

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OF: James Ramsey, Florida State (2009-12)

Ramsey had a breakout sophomore year at the dawn of the decade (.952 OPS). He then took another step forward as a junior (1.037), before grabbing first-team All-America honors as a senior (1.165 OPS). He was a well rounded player who hit for average and power, posted three straight double-digit stolen base campaigns, played quality defense and provided memorable leadership as the heart and soul of FSU’s 2012 Omaha team (in addition to serving as a key regular on the 2010 CWS club).

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OF: DJ Stewart, Florida State (2013-15)

This freight train of a human was a model of consistency for three years, posting OPS marks of 1.029, 1.029 and 1.093 and earning second-team All-America honors twice. He also took home ACC Player of the Year honors as a sophomore. His best season was his junior year, when he hit 15 homers and stole 12 bases. He was also a prototypical patient Seminole, posting a career BB-K mark of 147-117.

DH: Seth Beer, Clemson (2016-18)  

One of the most prolific power hitters of the 21st century, Beer smashed 18 homers and posted a 1.235 OPS as a freshman. As a sophomore, he hit 16 homers and 22 more as a junior, finishing with a career OPS of 1.137. Defense wasn’t his forte, so he fits best as the DH on this squad. But nobody on this list was a more productive power hitter in the ACC, and his flair for the dramatic made him a folk hero in the Upstate.

UT: Brendan McKay, Louisville (2015-17)

Steve Branscombe | USA TODAY Sports Images Brendan McKay pitching out of the stretch.

McKay has a viable case for best college player of the 21st century. He earned first-team All-America honors three years in a row as a premier two-way player, winning the Golden Spikes Award and becoming the No. 4 overall pick after his dynamite junior year. For his career, McKay finished 32-10, 2.23 with a 391-111 K-BB mark in 315.1 innings off the mound, while posting a .328/.430/.536 line with 28 homers and 132 RBIs at the plate.

SP: Matthew Crownover, Clemson (2013-15)

A three-year stalwart in the Clemson rotation, Crownover posted a career line of 25-12, 2.30, but his best season was his 2015 junior year, when he earned ACC Pitcher of the Year honors after going 10-3, 1.82 with a 108-37 K-BB in 109 innings.

SP: Kent Emanuel, North Carolina (2011-13)

Like Crownover, Emanuel was a model of consistency for three straight years, going a career 28-10, 2.52 in 346 innings. He was a workhorse who helped lead UNC to Omaha as a freshman and junior, and like Crownover, he was ACC Pitcher of the Year as a junior.

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SP: Danny Hultzen, Virginia (2009-11)

Hultzen had a brilliant three-year career as a two-way star, but just two of those seasons came in this decade. They were still good enough, however, to land him on this list. Hultzen went 11-1, 2.78 with a 123-24 mark in 106.2 innings as a sophomore, and then earned first-team All-America honors as a junior, going 12-3, 1.37 with a 165-23 K-BB in 118 innings. As a bonus, he was also a career .314/.400/.431 hitter in 392 at-bats.

SP: Connor Jones, Virginia (2014-16)

Justin Tafoya | NCAA Photos Connor Jones delivers a pitch.

Among the pitching heroes of UVA’s back-to-back CWS Finals teams, it isn’t easy to pick between Jones, Brandon Waddell and Nathan Kirby. Waddell was a three-year workhorse who posted a very good sophomore year and was a monster in Omaha as a junior, while Kirby had the best individual season as a sophomore. He earned first-team All-America honors that year but was sidelined by injury for much of his junior year. Jones offers the best combination of career value, peak value and Omaha impact; he went 22-5, 2.86 in his three-year career, highlighted by a strong showing in Omaha at the end of his 7-3, 3.19 sophomore year and an 11-1, 2.34 campaign as a junior.

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SP: Carlos Rodon, NC State (2012-14)

Rodon, the biggest no-brainer on this pitcher list, was one of the most dominant pitchers of the decade. He went 9-0, 1.57 to earn first-team All-America and national Freshman of the Year honors in 2012. He then recorded 10-3, 2.99 with 184 strikeouts in 132 innings as a sophomore to lead NC State to Omaha. He suffered from a lack of run support as a junior but still posted a 2.01 ERA. In his three-year career, he whiffed 436 in 345.1 innings.

RP: Bryan Garcia, Miami (2014-16)

No ACC pitcher of the decade was as reliable a force at the back of the bullpen for three straight years as Garcia. He posted a 1.75 ERA with 15 saves as a freshman, a 2.50 ERA with 10 saves as a sophomore and a 1.89 ERA with 18 saves as a junior. He anchored the bullpen for two straight Omaha teams in 2015-16.

RP: Josh Sborz, Virginia (2013-15)

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Sborz posted a 1.98 ERA as a freshman reliever and a 1.60 ERA as a junior reliever. He put up a 2.92 ERA as a starter his sophomore season. That remarkable 7-2, 1.60 campaign in 2015 also included 15 saves and a legendary performance in Omaha, when he went 3-0, 0.00 in 13 innings over four relief appearances. It eventually led Virginia to the ACC’s only national title in the last half-century.

Player of the Decade: Brendan McKay, Louisville

Pitcher of the Decade: Carlos Rodon, NC State

Coach of the Decade: Brian O’Connor, Virginia

Program of the Decade: Virginia

Virginia could probably win this honor solely on the strength of its 2014-15 seasons, when it finished as national runner-up and then won the ACC’s first national championship since 1955 a year later. But the Cavaliers also went to Omaha in 2011. Their three Omaha appearances this decade are tied with North Carolina for second-most of any ACC program behind Florida State (four). Louisville also went four times but just twice as a member of the ACC. The Cardinals have been the ACC’s most dominant program since joining the league five years ago, but before that they were a member of the American Athletic and Big East conferences. Virginia also won five regionals in the first six years of the decade, so we can forgive the Cavaliers two down years in 2018-19.

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Team of the Decade: 2015 Virginia Cavaliers

College World Series Finals: Virginia wins first title

This is an easy one, although these Cavaliers were actually less talented and had a much worse regular season than the 2014 Cavs, which spent most of the season ranked No. 1. Virginia’s national title team in 2015 struggled through an injury-plagued regular season and snuck into regionals as a No. 3 seed. The Cavs then caught fire in the postseason, traveling across country to win the Lake Elsinore Regional in three games, sweeping Maryland in the super regionals, taking out Arkansas and Florida in Omaha and then winning a memorable CWS Finals rematch against Vanderbilt. This group had incredible toughness and character, and it came up huge when the stakes were highest.

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