FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
DURHAM, N.C. – USA Baseball unveiled the three finalists for the 2014 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award in a selection show on GoldenSpikesAward.com on Tuesday. This year, the award will be presented to the nation’s top amateur baseball player for the 37th consecutive season.
Of the 21 semifinalists that were voted on by a committee of more than 200 voters, Michael Conforto, an outfielder from Oregon State, Aaron Nola, a right-handed pitcher from Louisiana State, and A.J. Reed, a left-handed pitcher and infielder for Kentucky, received the most votes and were named finalists for the award.
All three players competed in NCAA regionals over the weekend with their respective teams. However, Kentucky, Louisiana State and Oregon State were all eliminated from post season action in regional play.
All three finalists are expected to be drafted in Thursday’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Fans can continue to stay up to date on the GSA by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com — powered by MLB Advanced Media — which serves as the online home for the award. The website features content devoted exclusively to the GSA, including news, voting history, past winner photo galleries and photographs and video highlights of the 2014 finalists.
Conforto was voted a 2014 Golden Spikes Award finalist after a Pac-12 Conference-leading season. The Woodinville, Wash., native led the conference in a slew of categories, including slugging percentage (.547), on-base percentage (.504), and runs scored (52), and he finished fifth in the conference in batting average with a .345 mark. He also led the conference in walks with 55, which ranks second in the country. With that performance, Conforto earned the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year award for the second year in a row and was named First Team All-American.
Nola was voted a 2014 Golden Spikes Award finalist after a year in which he became the only player to win the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year award in two consecutive years (2013 and 2014). The Tigers righty ranks second in the nation in strikeouts with 134 and led the SEC in innings pitched (116.1) and opponent batting average (.172) while collecting a 1.47 ERA and 11 wins this season. On top of winning conference pitcher of the year honors, Nola was named First Team All-American for 2014 and is third on the Louisiana State career strikeouts list.
Reed was voted a 2014 Golden Spikes Award finalist after a dominating performance as a two-way player. From the mound, Reed tallied 12 wins and compiled a 2.09 ERA while striking out 71 batters throughout the season as Kentucky’s Friday night starter. At the plate, he led the nation in home runs, clubbing 23 while hitting .336 with 73 RBIs. Reed was also named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball magazine’s National Player of the Year for 2014 and First Team All-American.
The three players were named finalists after receiving the most votes during the semifinalist balloting round. During that round, 23 student-athletes received votes, including Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State) and Ben Wetzler (Oregon State) who tallied votes through the voting committee’s write-in option. After the three finalists, Wichita State’s Casey Gillaspie finished fourth in voting, followed by Max Pentecost (Kennesaw State), Aaron Brown (Pepperdine), Kyle Freeland (Evansville), Sam Travis (Indiana), Connor Joe (San Diego) and Michael Katz (William & Mary).
Following the presentation of the award on July 17, all three finalists will be celebrated at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles as part of the 2014 Rod Dedeaux Award Dinner. Hosted by the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the dinner will honor the Golden Spikes Award finalists, the Rod Dedeaux Award winner and the Rod Dedeaux USA Baseball Coach of the Year award winner.
In 2007, USA Baseball instituted a new selection and balloting procedure for the most prestigious award in amateur baseball, and it follows the same model again in 2014. After working closely with sports information directors and amateur baseball media across the country to determine watch lists and the top-performing athletes, a list of 21 semifinalists was sent to the GSA voting committee last week. The three players that received the most votes advanced to the finalist round, and beginning today, the committee will have the opportunity to vote for the winner.
Fans will once again be able to vote for the 2014 award by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com and selecting their favorite finalist. Voting for fans and the voting body ends at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, June 13.