The Rutgers baseball team's 2024 season is just a few weeks away, and its players have begun receiving awards. On January 18, Perfect Game announced their preseason honors for players in the Big Ten.
The honors are the result of exceptional performances from all three players individually last season. Here's a breakdown of how each player did in 2023 and their career performances thus far.
Kuroda-Grauer had a phenomenal 2023 season, slashing .298, .393 and .487 in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, respectively. He started 56 games at shortstop and finished with a near-perfect fielding percentage of 97.3.
Over the summer, Kuroda-Grauer played with the Bourne Braves, a collegiate summer team out of Bourne, Massachusetts. The Braves won the 2023 Cape Cod Baseball League for the second year in a row, and Kuroda-Grauer was named Playoff MVP. In eight games, Kuroda-Grauer had a .444 batting average, drove in 13 runs and was huge in leading the Braves to their second-straight league title.
Kuroda-Grauer has made a name for himself as one of the best shortstops in college baseball. Finishing as a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award in 2023, an award given to college baseball's top shortstop, Kuroda-Grauer is looking to soar to even higher heights this season and perhaps take home the award this time around.
Coppola is coming off a freshman season, in which he received All-Big Ten Freshman Team and All-Big Ten First Team honors. He was the first freshman in program history to be named All-Big Ten First Team.
Coppola was also a member of the 2023 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, where he received a training camp invite and then went on to make the final 31-man roster and represent Team USA.
Coppola had a dominant first season for the Scarlet Knights, posting a 3.68 earned runs average (ERA), which led all Big Ten pitchers in 2023. He had 71 strikeouts and gave up 61 hits. Coppola ended the season allowing 27 earned runs and a batting average of .240 against him.
In his 13 games played, Coppola went 5-5 as the starting pitcher.
DeChiaro is the only player out of the three that was not on Rutgers' roster last season, playing as a reliever for Old Dominion the past four seasons. He didn't rack up the accolades like Kuroda-Grauer and Coppola, but he had a strong season with a career-high 20 appearances.
DeChiaro registered 22.1 innings for the Monarchs and recorded two saves and a 4.43 ERA. He finished with 22 strikeouts and allowed 22 hits and ten walks.
Over his final seven appearances with Old Dominion, he held opponents to a .262 batting average and allowed just one run.
DeChiaro also competed in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer, pitching 24.1 innings for the Brewster Whitecaps. He finished with a 4-1 record and a 3.32 ERA. DeChairo recorded 19 strikeouts, seven walks and allowed 14 hits in his ten appearances.
Alongside returning veterans like senior right-handed pitcher Ben Gorski and graduate student right-handed pitcher Jake Marshall, DeChiaro is in line for a great first season on the Banks. He will look to improve a bullpen that collapsed in the 2023 Big Ten Tournament.
These three Preseason All-Conference players are primed for a year of excellence with the Knights. The season will begin February 16 against Winthrop. The game will be the first of a three-game series against the Eagles at the Winthrop Ballpark in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
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