June 3, 2008
DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced today the names of the five finalists for the 2008 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award (GSA). This year will mark the 31st consecutive year that the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award has been presented to the nation's premier amateur baseball player.
Gordon Beckham, SS, Georgia (Atlanta, Ga.); Aaron Crow, RHP, Missouri (Wakarusa, Kan.); Brian Matusz, LHP, San Diego (Phoenix, Ariz.); Buster Posey, C/RHP, Florida State (Leesburg, Ga.); and Brett Wallace, 3B, Arizona State (Sonoma, Calif.) round out the five finalists.
Fans can continue to stay up to date on the award by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com, powered by MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball. The new Web site features content devoted exclusively to the GSA, including news, voting history, past-winner photo galleries, and photographs and video highlights for 2008 finalists.
The 2008 GSA will be awarded on July 16 as part of a production by Major League Baseball and MLBAM that will be streamed live on the Internet exclusively at GoldenSpikesAward.com and MLB.com. The annual event will be held this year in New York City following MLB All-Star Week.
"Once again the voting committee was faced with a difficult task in narrowing the list of Golden Spikes Award candidates from 50 players to five," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "That said, Gordon Beckham, Aaron Crow, Brian Matusz, Buster Posey, and Brett Wallace are all deserving finalists, and USA Baseball would be honored to award any one of them with the 2008 trophy."
Gordon Beckham set the single-season home run record (24) at Georgia this year en route to being named 2008 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year. The junior shortstop led the SEC in home runs, total bases (187) and runs scored (83), and he was second in the conference in average (.398). Beckham was named 2008 ESPN Academic All-American (2nd Team) and ranked 3rd in the NCAA in home runs and 4th overall in total bases.
Big-12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, Aaron Crow set Missouri's single-season record for wins (13) and posted a string of 43 scoreless innings pitched, which is unofficially tied for the fourth-longest streak in NCAA Division I history. Crow's 13 wins also led the NCAA and he finished 6th in strikeouts (127) as well. The junior righty is the first-ever Golden Spikes Award finalist from Missouri.
Brian Matusz is coming off a season where he in which he led the NCAA in strikeouts (141) and tied for 5th in the country in wins (12). The junior lefty was named 2008 West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year and finished the season as the all-time career leader at San Diego in strikeouts (396). Matusz was a member of the 2007 USA Baseball National Team and is the first ever player from San Diego selected as a Golden Spikes Award finalist.
2008 ACC Player of the Year Buster Posey led the NCAA in batting average (.472), on base percentage (.572) and slugging (.908). An accomplished pitcher as well, the junior led Florida State in saves (6) and did not give up an earned run in eight appearances. Posey was named ESPN Academic All-American of the Year, and he was a member of the 2004 USA Baseball 18U National Team. This is the second year in a row that Florida State has fielded a Golden Spikes Award finalist (2007, Tony Thomas, Jr.).
For the second year in a row, Brett Wallace was selected as the Pacific-10 (Pac-10) Player of the Year. A member of the 2007 USA Baseball National Team, Wallace led the Pac-10 in six major categories - average (.414), hits (94), runs scored (83), runs batted in (81), home runs (21), and total bases (173). The junior is the first Golden Spikes Award finalist out of Arizona State since Dustin Pedroia in 2004.
In 2007, USA Baseball instituted a new selection and balloting procedure for the most prestigious award in amateur baseball, and it is following the same model again in 2008. After accepting nominations from sports information directors across the country, a committee voted to determine 50 semifinalists. The names of the 50 semifinalists were forwarded to a voting body of 125 who selected the five finalists, and the committee will now determine the eventual 2008 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award winner.
For the past 30 years, USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the Golden Spikes Award. Following the first ever presentation of the Award to Bob Horner of Arizona State in 1978, the Golden Spikes Award has been presented each year to the player who exhibits exceptional athletic ability and exemplary sportsmanship. The 2007 Golden Spikes Award winner was David Price of Vanderbilt University. Past winners of this prestigious award include current Major League Baseball players such as Tim Lincecum ('06), Alex Gordon ('05), Jered Weaver ('04), Rickie Weeks ('03), Khalil Greene ('02), Jason Jennings ('00), Pat Burrell (`98), J.D. Drew ('97), Mark Kotsay ('95), and Jason Varitek ('94). Former Major League stars that have captured the award include Robin Ventura ('88), Jim Abbott ('87), Will Clark ('85), Dave Magadan ('83), Terry Francona ('80), Tim Wallach ('79), and Bob Horner ('78).