IRVING, Texas – Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon has been named the 2009 Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball Freshman Player of the Year, it was announced by the publication on Wednesday. Rendon is joined by Tulane catcher Jeremy Schaffer, UCF catcher Beau Taylor and East Carolina left-handed pitcher Kevin Brandt on the Freshman All-American team.
Rendon becomes the fifth Conference USA Player to earn National Freshman of the Year honors, following Rice’s Ryan Berry (2007), East Carolina’s Darryl Lawhorn (2002) and Tulane’s Michael Aubrey (2001) and James Jurries (1999). He also becomes the eighth different Rice player since 2002 to earn at least co-National Freshman of the Year honors, following Berry, Joe Savery (2005), Jeff Niemann (2003), Philip Humber (2002), Vincent Sinisi (2002), Mario Ramos (1999), Damon Thames (1998) and Lance Berkman (1997).
Rendon, who is also a national semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy as well as the Golden Spikes Award, is the first player in Conference USA history to be named both the Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season. Rendon was also named C-USA Tournament Most Valuable Player after leading the Owls to their third tournament title in four years. The standout from nearby Lamar High School in Houston has had a sensational debut at the Division I level, leading the conference in batting average (.384) and home runs with a Rice freshman record 19. He also leads C-USA in slugging percentage (.688) and tops the Owls in RBI (70). Rendon has scored 57 runs, walked 31 times and added 13 doubles, while striking out just 22 times in 237 at-bats.
Schaffer was named first-team All-Conference USA and claimed a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman Team. He played in all but two of the Green Wave’s contests in 2009, including 49 starts behind the plate and eight as the club’s designated hitter. Schaffer posted a .311 average with 56 RBI and recorded a .566 slugging percentage, tacking on eight doubles and two triples in addition to his 14 home runs. Behind the dish, the Bellaire, Texas, native threw out 16 would-be base stealers. He finished his rookie season with 20 multiple-hit games and 16 multiple-RBI contests. Schaffer is the first Tulane true freshman to handle the majority of the catching duties at Tulane since All-American Chad Sutter in 1996.
Taylor becomes the first UCF player to earn Freshman All-America honors since Taylor Meier in 2004. He appeared in 42 games, making 39 starts, batting .335 and posting a .500 slugging percentage. Taylor finished second on the team in doubles with 15, while adding four home runs and 23 RBI. Behind the plate, he threw out a league-high 26 would-be base stealers.
Brandt gives East Carolina a freshman All-American pitcher for the second straight season, following Seth Maness last season. The C-USA All-Freshman team selection has made 27 appearances this season, logging five starts, and owns a 9-1 record. Brandt has a 3.52 ERA and has struck out 67 while walking just 21 batters in 76.2 innings pitched. On April 27 he was named Conference USA Pitcher of the Week after leading ECU to a shutout victory over then-No. 1 North Carolina, the Pirates’ opponent in this weekend’s NCAA Super Regional.