FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
SECAUCUS, N.J. — USA Baseball announced Friday the selection of Florida’s Mike Zunino as the recipient of the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award (GSA). The prestigious award, now in its 35th year of recognizing the nation’s top amateur baseball player, was presented live on MLB Network.
In partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) and MLB Network, USA Baseball announced the GSA winner live on “The Rundown,” and the presentation was simulcast on GoldenSpikesAward.com, USABaseball.com, MLB.com, and the Seattle Mariners (Mariners.com) and Pittsburgh Pirates (Pirates.com) club sites.
Mark Appel (RHP, Stanford) and Carlos Rodon (LHP, NC State) were the other finalists for the award. Zunino was selected by the Mariners with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, and Appel went No. 8 to the Pirates. Rodon recently completed his freshman season for the Wolfpack and is currently a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
“USA Baseball could not be more proud of the three Golden Spikes Award finalists, Mike Zunino, Mark Appel and Carlos Rodon,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball executive director/CEO. “Each athlete authored an incredible season on the diamond this year, and they carried themselves with class off the field as well. Mike’s performance in 2012 stood above the rest, however, and we are honored to present such a deserving player with the award.”
Zunino is the first GSA winner and highest draft pick in Florida’s history, and he marked the first GSA finalist for the Gators since Matt LaPorta in 2007. The Cape Coral, Fla., native was a consensus first-team All-American, the first Dick Howser Trophy recipient from Florida, Baseball America’s 2012 College Player of the Year, and the initial Johnny Bench Award winner from UF. He finished as the Gators’ Triple Crown winner, leading the team in batting average (.322), RBIs (67) and homers (19), and paced the Orange and Blue in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669). He was also 9-for-10 in stolen-base attempts. According to the final NCAA statistics, Zunino was first nationally in sacrifice flies, third in doubles, fourth in round-trippers, fifth in total bases, ninth in doubles per game, 10th in RBIs and 11th in slugging percentage. A two-time, first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league’s All-Defensive Team, the three-year starter registered a .994 fielding percentage in his final campaign, with three errors in 510 chances, and threw out 20 runners who attempted to steal on him.
Zunino becomes the third catcher in five years to win the GSA, joining Bryce Harper (Southern Nevada, 2010) and Buster Posey (Florida State, 2008). Jason Varitek (Georgia Tech, 1994) is the only other backstop to have won the GSA.
For the fifth year in a row, fans were able to stay up to date on the award by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com. The website features content devoted exclusively to the GSA, including news, voting history, past-winner photo galleries and photographs and video highlights of the 2012 finalists.
Since 1978, USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the GSA. Following the first-ever presentation of the trophy to Bob Horner of Arizona State, the GSA has been awarded each year to the player who exhibits exceptional athletic ability and exemplary sportsmanship.
The 2011 GSA winner was Trevor Bauer of UCLA. Past winners of the award include current Major Leaguers such as Harper (’10), Stephen Strasburg (’09), Posey (’08), David Price (’07), Tim Lincecum (’06), Alex Gordon (’05), Jered Weaver (’04), Rickie Weeks (’03) and Mark Kotsay (’95). Former big league stars that have captured the award include Pat Burrell (’98), Varitek (’94), Robin Ventura (’88), Jim Abbott (’87), Will Clark (’85), Dave Magadan (’83), Terry Francona (’80), Tim Wallach (’79) and Horner (’78).