MALIBU, Calif. - USA Baseball unveiled its list of semifinalists for the 2016 Golden Spikes Award and Pepperdine pitcher A.J. Puckett was one of the 25 athletes to garner the honor. The Golden Spikes Award is given annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country.
Puckett is one of 10 pitchers on the list and is the only player from the West Coast Conference to be named a semifinalist.
The junior right-hander is coming off of one of the most remarkable seasons in Pepperdine history after leading the Waves to their third straight appearance in the WCC Tournament. Puckett put up the third best ERA in both Pepperdine and WCC history with a 1.27 mark on the season. It was the fourth best ERA in the NCAA this year.
Puckett went 9-3 for the Waves, leading Pepperdine to a 29-win season and 16-11 mark in the WCC. He put up one of the most dominant stretches in NCAA history, tossing 45.2 consecutive scoreless innings and 57.1 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run. Both marks were Pepperdine records and the 45.2 scoreless inning streak was the third longest in NCAA history. Puckett posted eight starts this year in which he did not allow an earned run and seven in which he did not give up a run at all. He also had five starts with at least eight strikeouts and one or fewer walks, including a complete-game shutout of Portland in which he struck out a career-high 12 batters and walked none.
Puckett finished the year fourth in the NCAA in ERA, 10th in WHIP (0.92) and 16th in hits allowed per nine innings (5.89), also leading the WCC in all three categories. He held opponents to a .191 batting average, all while striking out 95 batters and walking just 26.
The Waves' ace was named WCC Pitcher of the Year this season, is currently on the National Pitcher of the Year watch list and was named to the WCC All-Tournament Team. He is the second Pepperdine player in the past three years to be named a semifinalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, along with Aaron Brown in 2014. Pepperdine's Barry Enright earned the semifinalist nod in 2007 as well.
USA Baseball officials will announce the finalists for the 2016 Golden Spikes Award on Monday, June 13. To select the finalists, the list of semifinalists is sent to a voting body consisting of past Golden Spikes Award winners, past USA Baseball National Team coaches and press officers, members of the media that closely follow the amateur game, select professional baseball personnel, and select current USA Baseball staff, representing a group of more than 200 voters in total. Fan voting will once again be part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2016. This announcement officially marks the opening of voting for amateur baseball fans from across the country on GoldenSpikesAward.com. Voting will be open until Wednesday, June 8.
The 2016 Golden Spikes Award winner will be named on Thursday, June 30, at a presentation in Los Angeles. The finalists and their families will be honored at the Rod Dedeaux Foundation Dinner that evening at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.