***PHOTO COURTESY*** Kelly Donoho, Mississippi State Athletics
GREENSBORO, N.C. – After dominating college baseball’s best throughout the 2019 season, Mississippi State baseball’s Ethan Small earned the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Division I National Pitcher of the Year award.
It is the second national “of the year” honor Small earned following his redshirt-junior campaign, as the left hander was also tabbed National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation. The ABCA has awarded a national player of the year since 2001, before splitting the awards into Position Player and Pitcher of the Year in 2018. Prior to 2018, six full-time pitchers won the award, including Vanderbilt’s David Price.
Small is just the second pitcher from Mississippi State to win a national pitcher of the year award, with Chris Stratton being named the Perfect Game National Pitcher of the Year in 2012. Small was one of two State student-athlete to earn a national player of the year honor in 2019, as freshman JT Ginn was named National Freshman of the Year by Perfect Game and Co-National Freshman Pitcher of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
With the national pitcher of the year honor, Small joined a select group of MSU student-athletes that have won a national “of the year” award. He joined Ginn, Stratton, Golden Spikes Award winner Will Clark (1985), and Johnny Bench Award (national catcher of the year) winner Ed Easley (2007).
The left-handed pitcher was a unanimous first-team All-America selection, earning the distinction from all seven of the major baseball reporting outlets. Small is the first Diamond Dawg to garner first-team All-America accolades since Jacob Lindgren did so from Baseball America and Perfect Game in 2014. He joins Clark, Stratton, Rafael Palmeiro and Brent Rooker as the only unanimous first-team All-America selections in program history.
Small joined Stratton as the only two SEC Pitcher of the Year winners in program history, with the award first handed out in 2003. The left hander also earned first-team All-SEC honors, becoming the first MSU pitcher since Dakota Hudson in 2016 to garner a spot on the top All-SEC squad.
The 15th Diamond Dawg in program history to hear his name called in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, Small was the fifth MSU student-athlete drafted in the first round in the last eight years, joining Rooker (2017), Hudson (2016), Hunter Renfroe (2013) and Stratton (2012).
Small was the fourth MSU left-handed pitcher to be taken in the first round of the MLB Draft, with the Lexington, Tennessee native joining Paul Maholm (2003), Eric DuBose (1997) and B.J. Wallace (1992) as southpaws taken in the first round.
Small has been up to the challenge each week as the No. 1 starter for the Bulldogs, posting a 10-2 record – including a 7-1 mark in SEC play – and a 1.93 ERA. The southpaw did not allow more than three runs in a start all season and limited the opposition to two-or-fewer runs in 16 of 18 starts. He was the first MSU pitcher since Ross Mitchell (13; 2013) to reach double-digits in the win column.
Against ranked opponents, Small posted a 6-2 record and 1.48 ERA in 10 starts, with Mississippi State owning a 7-3 record in those games. Two of those three losses came in one-run games, while the other loss was a two-run loss at Arkansas. In 61 innings of work versus the nation’s best teams, Small allowed just 12 runs on 27 hits. He struck out 98 and walked only 18, limiting the opposition to a .131 batting average against.
On the career charts, Small finished with 318 strikeouts to become just the third Diamond Dawg in program history to reach the 300-strikeout mark for a career, joining Dubose (428; 1995-97) and Jeff Brantley (364; 1982-85). His 176 strikeouts in 2019 are the MSU single-season record and sit No. 5 on the SEC’s single-season charts.