HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Northern Kentucky University (10-21, 0-6 A-Sun) senior outfielder Cole Bauml (Muenster, Saskatchewan / Lake Lenore) is probably the best NCAA Division 1 Baseball player that you’ve never heard of.
“Cole’s numbers obviously speak for themselves,” NKU Head Coach Todd Asalon told College Baseball Central. “But it’s his off the field stuff he does. He works so hard, he’s a good leader, he sets the tone in practice sets the tone in the game, and he’s just clutch. There is no pitcher he cant hit. He really knows how to work the count, he knows the strike zone, but his work ethic is relentless. He’s good in the weight room too, always the first one to practice and the last one to leave, that’s what makes him so good.”
Bauml’s conference-leading on-base streak of 42 games is just the tip of the iceberg. The all-around talent is leading the nation in doubles (24), and is fifth in slugging percentage (.762), while sitting tied for fourth in total bases (96). He has 10 stolen bases and his .389 batting average is 47TH in the nation.
“It’s always nice to play good,” Bauml told College Baseball Central. “When it comes down to it, it’s all about winning the division, and hopefully we can get a few more wins here before the end of the year.
Sporting a 1.000 fielding percentage with 82 put outs, Bauml’s seven home runs, 21 RBIs, 30 runs, and .473 on-base-percentage says he is a five-tool player. I clocked him this weekend during the Kennesaw State series at 3.72 seconds from home to first. He hits for average and power, and can steal bases at will while running down and catching anything hit in his vicinity. The arm is plus from the outfield as well.
“I just wanted to come and play every day, come and compete, and play hard and try to help the team win,” Bauml explained.
So why is no one talking about this guy? Well, NKU is a reclassified University.
In the fall of 2012 NKU began a four-year reclassification process making all athletic programs ineligible for NCAA postseason tournaments. As such, the NCAA does not keep regular season statistics for a school going through the reclassification process in their “official stats”, so if you’re scrambling to the NCAA website to double check the stats I mentioned you’re not going to find them.
However, stats are kept by the school itself, and you can read them there at www.nkunorse.com. This does not mean that Bauml — or any other athlete in a reclassify situation — is not eligible to receive Player of the Year, Regional Player of the Year, All-America, or conference honors.
NKU Athletics departed the Great Lakes Valley Conference (Division II) after the 2011 season, which it amalgamated in 1985. In the fall of 2016, NKU will come to be an NCAA Division I body, and will then be eligible for NCAA Tournament play, as well as NCAA revenue dispersals associated to sports backing and grant-in-aid.
“My first two years in college I went to a junior college in Colorado,” Bauml told CBC. “Out of there I got recruited by Northern Kentucky and it was actually my only division one offer, so that was basically the main factor of why I chose to come here.”
Now that we’ve shed some light on Bauml and the reclassified NKU athletic situation, let’s talk about where Bauml fits in the previously mentioned awards discussions.
I am going to go out on a limb here and, just be the first to say he should be – at this point in the season anyway – in the Player of the Year deliberations hands down. It’s incredible what Wake Forest sophomore two-way threat Will Craig, and Arizona junior infielder Scott Kingery are doing this year.
Nevertheless, Bauml is right there neck-and-neck with the rest of the midseason POY projections. Yet has not been given the credit or attention he deserves. He is not on the 60-player midseason USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list, nor is he under Dick Howser Trophy considerations.
The Atlantic Sun is a tough baseball conference, maybe not the Atlantic Coast, or Southeastern Conference caliber, but competitive as any other. Bauml is mashing, and really, every one of his hitting category totals is in the top 100 nationally, with the majority in the top 50 save triples (1).
Plain and simple, Bauml rakes. I watched this kid this past weekend (April, 11-12) against a Kennesaw State club that had NKU out matched. However, Bauml got his, going 5-for-12 for the series with two doubles, three runs, two stolen bases, one RBI, and an HBP. Logging his best day on Sunday going 3-for-5 with two runs, three hits, one RBI, a double and a stolen base. All with a busted thumb received on the HBP Saturday. The small-town kid has grit.
“I am definitely aggressive,” Bauml said. “I am aggressive on fastballs, but at the same time I try to adapt to what the pitcher is doing so it’s kind of give and take. I try to find the line between what I’m good at and what the pitcher is trying to do and try to find the line there.”
According to sources, at least one MLB team is showing interest in Bauml, however, two more organizations are said to have joined in the scouting of Bauml as of Monday.
It would be a crying shame for this young talent — in his senior season — to go unnoticed for his remarkable talents and productivity in NCAA Baseball. But if that ends up being the case, he will be – or at least should be – a first round pick in the upcoming MLB Draft.