AUSTIN, Texas (KTSM) – It could be the first of many big-time awards for Texas superstar first baseman Ivan Melendez.
The Coronado High School graduate, who recently became the Longhorn’s single-season home run leader, was named the National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball on Thursday, on the eve of Texas’ opener vs Air Force in the NCAA Tournament’s Austin Regional.
It’s the latest in a string of awards Melendez has received and it could be the start of an avalanche of postseason honors for the El Paso native. Melendez was named a First Team All-American by the publication; he was also named Big 12 Player of the Year last week; the most prestigious postseason award in college baseball, the Golden Spikes Award, will be handed out later this month and Melendez is a semifinalist.
Melendez was unavailable for comment on Thursday, but his coaches and teammates were happy to sing his praises.
“Day in, day out, if he has a big day or not, he’s very humble and respectful to the game,” said Texas head coach David Pierce at a press conference on Thursday. “He’s just fun to watch and you pull for guys like that.”
The nation’s leader in home runs in 2022 with 29 so far, Melendez is also hitting .406, with 87 RBI, good for second in the nation.
He’s become a sensation in two seasons with the Longhorns, earning the nickname “Hispanic Titanic,” and he’s lived up to the high expectations that were put on him coming into the 2022 season, after he led the Longhorns in hitting during their run to the 2021 College World Series.
“You could see him walking down the street and never know he’s Ivan Melendez and to me that’s the best thing about him. He’s so even-keel and humble,” said Longhorns shortstop Trey Faltine. “In my opinion, he’s the best player to ever play college baseball. To have him on our team and just be around him every day is special.”
Melendez and the Longhorns will kickoff their 2022 NCAA Tournament run on Friday at noon MT vs. Air Force in the first game of the Austin Regional at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The game will air on ESPNU.