Jan 02, 2018
HICKORY, N.C. — A list of current and former Catawba Valley Community College baseball players have been honored by one of the nation's premier baseball publications before the season is set to begin.
Red Hawks left-handed pitcher Julian Smith, first baseman David Graves, third baseman Graham Mitchell and outfielder Joe Mason were all named 2018 Junior College Players to Watch by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in the publication's Jan. 5 edition.
Smith, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Concord, N.C., missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but returned this past fall.
Smith also recently became the first Red Hawk baseball player to join a Division I Power Five conference on Nov. 9, 2017 when he signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at N.C. State University next season.
A redshirt sophomore from Greenville, S.C., Mitchell batted .316 with 5 home runs, 34 RBIs and 21 runs scored in 45 games last season.
Both Smith and Mitchell, along with teammates Daniel Brinegar and Hunter Isaacs, were named captains for the Red Hawks baseball team heading into the 2018 season.
Graves, who stands 6-foot-4 and is from Waxhaw, N.C., played both first and third base last season for the Red Hawks, driving in 18 runs with 5 home runs and a .375 average.
A 6-foot, 180-pound transfer from Wingate University, Mason hit .313 for the Bulldogs last season with 51 hits, 11 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs and 29 RBIs.
Although proud of the accomplishment, CVCC head baseball coach Paul Rozzelle is looking forward to seeing what his athletes will accomplish on the diamond this season.
"Any type of acknowledgement is always great, but preseason acknowledgement is a form of recognizing what you've done in the past and has no direct correlation on what you're doing in the future," Rozzelle said. "I'm confident that our guys are focused, and I look forward to them going out this season and proving that this recognition was deserved."
Bryce Hensley (UNC Greensboro, Southern Conference) and Lou Matarazzo (Iona, Metro Atlantic Conference) — both members of CVCC's 2015 World Series team — were named Top Players to Watch at the Division I level in their respective conferences.
Former Red Hawks outfielder Ty Andrus (Wingate), who was a Rawlings Gold Glove winner and All-American at CVCC, was also named a Player to Watch at the Division II level in the Southeast Region by Collegiate Baseball.
CVCC opens its 2018 baseball season on Saturday, Feb. 10 with a home doubleheader against the Piedmont International JV team. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at Henkel-Alley Field.