LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky baseball outfielder John Rhodes and infielder/outfielder Austin Schultz each were named Preseason First-Team All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, it was announced on Wednesday. Kentucky is one of just three teams in the nation to have two first-team selections.
Rhodes previously had earned Third-Team Preseason All-America recognition from Baseball America, D1 Baseball and Collegiate Baseball, the latter of which named him the 2020 National co-Freshman of the Year after a blistering start to his collegiate career. He is considered one of the top prospects for the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft, ranking as high as the No. 32 overall prospect by MLB.com/MLB Pipeline.
Rhodes, from Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, ranked second nationally in doubles in 2020 with 10, twice as many as any other rookie in the talent-rich SEC. He batted .426 overall in 61 at bats with 11 runs, 26 hits, 10 doubles, a triple, a home run, 19 RBI and five hit by pitch. He slugged .672 as part of a 1.157 OPS. The .426 average was the highest for any UK player with at least 50 at-bats since Jeff Abbott batted .445 in 1994.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder was one of the top hitters in the SEC regardless of class. He ranked sixth in the SEC in total hits and 10th in RBI, led all SEC freshmen in batting average, hits, on-base percentage, doubles and total bases and ranked second in slugging percentage.
Rhodes’ biggest moment came when he clubbed the first home run of his career for a walk-off winner vs. Murray State on March 4. In just 17 games he already had nine multi-hit games and six multi-RBI games while logging a career-high three hits three times.
Schultz was named the first-team second baseman after hitting .393 with 11 extra-base hits and a team-high 20 runs and 20 RBI in just 61 at-bats last spring. He ranked third in the Southeastern Conference in total bases with 46 and fourth in slugging percentage at .754. The Adams, Nebraska native had five doubles, a triple, five home runs, five stolen bases and posted a 1.233 OPS as he anchored the Wildcats’ offense.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder crushed first grand slam of his career on March 8 vs. Oakland as part of a two-day span where he homered in back-to-back games. He drove in career-high four runs on Feb. 18 vs. Southeast Missouri. He has reached base safely in 56 of 60 career games.
Kentucky is set to open the 2021 season on Feb. 23 at Kentucky Proud Park against Miami University.
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The Kentucky baseball team will be featured nine times on national television this season, including three in the Southeastern Conference’s Thursday night showcase, the league announced on Wednesday. Additionally, all of the Wildcats’ home games and 30 conference games will be available via SEC Network Plus.
The Wildcats again will face one of the most difficult schedules in the country with 29 games against teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 by at least one of the major national polls, including nine of 10 SEC opponents (27 of 30 league games). As it stands entering the season, UK will play 14 games against teams ranked in the preseason Top 10.
UK first appears on national television on Sunday, Mar. 21 when Missouri comes to town. The Thursday night showcase games include April 1 at Mississippi State, April 29 at Tennessee and May 6 vs. Florida.