DURHAM, N.C. – Adding to an already impressive list of accolades, Missouri State junior third baseman Jake Burger was one of 15 players selected by Baseball America for 2017 first-team preseason All-America honors on Monday.
Burger, a consensus All-America choice in 2016, led the Bears in batting (.349) and RBIs (72) last spring to earn a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team over the summer. The Chesterfield, Mo., native was also named the top defensive third baseman in the country last year as one of nine NCAA Division I standouts selected for the ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division I Gold Glove Team. He checked in at No. 27 on BA’s College Top 100 Prospects list earlier this month and claimed 2017 preseason All-America recognition from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association as well.
Baseball America annually polls major league organizations’ scouting departments to vote on the team and make their selections based on performance, talent and professional potential. This year 17 of the 30 teams participated, giving a solid cross-section of how scouts view the college talent heading into the 2017 season. The 42 players on BA’s three preseason All-America teams represent a total of 29 schools, and 13 teams from eight conferences are represented on the first team alone.
A second-team All-America pick by Collegiate Baseball in 2016, Burger is just the fourth Missouri State player overall (along with Nick Petree in 2011-13, Mark Bailey in 1980 and 1982 and Ken Watkins in 1969-70) to garner All-America recognition in multiple years. The Missouri Valley Conference's Defensive Player of the Year was a semifinalist for both the Dick Howser Trophy and USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award last spring after clubbing 21 homers, good for the No. 2 spot on the Division I home run leaderboard behind fellow Bear Spencer Johnson. Burger became the second Bear in as many years to be named the league's top defensive player after committing just two errors in 138 total chances at the hot corner, good for a .986 fielding percentage, including a string of 34 consecutive error-free games to wrap up the season.
In the past, Baseball America’s Preseason All-America team has been a predictor both of the first round of the draft and of team success. Five members of the 2016 preseason first-team became first-round draft picks last June, including BA’s College Player of the Year Kyle Lewis. Florida and Louisville, the two teams with the most 2016 preseason All-Americans, were the Nos. 1 and 2 national seeds in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
Missouri State, which finished as the MVC Tournament runner-up with a 38-21 overall mark last spring, will christen its 2017 campaign Feb. 17 in Lake Charles, La., where it will take on Rhode Island to open play at the Lake View Classic.