FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas baseball team members Zack Cox, Brett Eibner and Andy Wilkins were named to the 2010 Baseball America preseason All-America Team, as released by the publication Friday. Cox and Eibner were selected to the first team while Wilkins was placed on the second team. Arkansas is one of three programs in the nation, along with Texas and LSU, with three players honored.
"This is such a big honor for all of those players," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "Brett and Andy are entering their third year and Zack is in his second season, so we’ve had a chance to watch them develop and put up big numbers over the years. To be placed in such a prestigious group shows how much they’ve grown. This honor is also big for our program as these are three guys we’ll be depending on throughout this season.
Cox is the designated hitter on the first team. Last season, he was second on the team with 13 home runs, 15 doubles and a .558 slugging percentage. He was instrumental in the Razorbacks’ postseason run as he was named to the SEC and NCAA Norman Regional All-Tournament Teams as Arkansas made its way to the College World Series.
In recognition of his season performance, Cox was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
"Zack brings a great presence to the team and is a fiery competitor," Van Horn said. "He’s an outstanding player and nobody works harder than he does. He’s already established himself as a leader and was voted one of our team captains this year. He has really worked to improve his defense, and offensively, he’s one of the best hitters we’ve had at Arkansas in many years."
Eibner is slotted as the first team utility player. Last season, he had 12 home runs and 34 RBI at the plate and was 5-5 in 17 starts on the mound. He had standout moments in each area as his biggest hit of the season, a game-tying two-run blast against No. 6 Virginia during the College World Series, helped extend the Razorbacks’ season, while his highlight on the mound, a complete-game shutout on the road against No. 1 Georgia, earned him Collegiate Baseball’s National Pitcher of the Week accolades.
"Brett is a tremendous athlete that is starting to come into his own," Van Horn said. "One of the toughest things you can do is being a two-way player, especially as the starting center fielder and his role as a weekend starter. It takes a special player to manage that and he’s done a great job of managing his time and responsibilities to this team."
Wilkins rounds out the Razorback trio as the first baseman on the second team. The team’s leading hitter from a year ago, he also slugged a team-high 19 home runs with 58 RBI. He also led the team in doubles, total bases and slugging percentage. Wilkins was unstoppable during NCAA Norman Regional in which he hit .750 (12-for-16) with two home runs, 11 RBI, five doubles and five runs scored. He was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player.
During the summer, the Broken Arrow, Okla., native was selected to play for the USA Collegiate National Team. Wilkins finished the 24-game summer tour with a pair of home runs and 11 RBI.
"Andy is an outstanding defender and is such a threat for us at the 3 or 4 spot in our lineup," Van Horn said. "Last season’s numbers speak for themselves and the experience he’s gained over the years is really going to show. I think he is primed for even more success this year."
This is the second preseason honor for Wilkins. He was also named to the Louisville Slugger preseason All-America Third Team by Collegiate Baseball in December.
The Razorbacks, with LSU and Georgia Tech, were the only teams with two players on the first team. The Southeastern Conference led all leagues with 13 players selected overall and seven players named to the first team.
"All three of these guys were drafted out of high school," Van Horn said. "They opted to come to college, instead, and that decision has paid off in their development."
In the Baseball America preseason top 25, released last week, the Razorbacks are ranked No. 17. Arkansas’ 2010 season gets under way Feb. 19-21 with a three-game home series against Ball State. For more information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: BA preseason all-america teams.pdf