February 12, 2013

Baseball's Hooper Named to Tino Martinez Award Watch List

OMAHA, Neb. – University of North Georgia senior baseball player Derek Hooper has been named to the watch list for the fourth annual Tino Martinez DII Player of the Year Award, a list that includes 151 names of the top amateur student-athletes from across the nation in NCAA Division II baseball.

The award is presented to the most outstanding player in DII college baseball. The annual honor is named after the former University of Tampa Spartan, United States Olympian, first round draft pick and MLB All-Star, Tino Martinez.

Hooper, a 5-10 outfielder from Sharpsburg, Ga., finished the 2012 season batting .314 with 40 runs scored and another 20 runs batted in. He recorded at least three hits in 10 games last season, including a season-high four in a 17-2 win over Davis & Elkins on February 11. He was named to the Peach Belt Conference All-Academic team and earned PBC Silver Scholar honors from the league as well.

For his career while at North Georgia, Hooper holds a .317 batting average in two seasons and has played in 105 games, having started 104. He has recorded 130 hits, 82 runs scored, 47 RBIss, 24 doubles and 20 stolen bases. In the field, he has 245 put outs to his name along with 317 assists compared to just 31 errors, giving him a career fielding percentage of .948. 

Initial nominations for the award were made by baseball sports information contacts, coaches and media members. A panel of media, coaches and sports information officers was polled to finalize the candidates and determine the winner. A fan Internet vote also contributes to the final vote. 

The recipient of the 2012 Tino Martinez Award was senior first baseman Nathan Minnich of Shepherd University (W.Va.). Minnich finished the season batting .487 (74 for 152) with 21 home runs, 12 doubles and 72 RBIs, while racking up a .980 slugging percentage. He led the country in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, walks per game and RBIs. 

Chase Larsson of the Cameron Aggies was the recipient of the award two seasons ago after leading DII in home runs (29), RBI (84), slugging percentage (1.000) and total bases (190). Mount Olive's Carter Capps, the 2011 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's National Pitcher of the Year, finished in a close second. 

Erskine's Bryan Fogle won the first edition of the award in 2010 after batting .430 and leading DII with 28 home runs, 103 RBI (the second most in NCAA history) and 203 total bases. The Flying Fleet star was drafted by Tampa Bay following the season. Runner-up Hayden Simpson of Southern Arkansas was a first round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs.

The entire watch list can be viewed HERE.