DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced its 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list on Friday, beginning the process of identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2018 season. The 41st Golden Spikes Award will be presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation on June 28 in Los Angeles.
The preseason watch list features 55 of the nation's top amateur players, from high school and college baseball. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will maintain a rolling list of players, allowing athletes to play themselves into consideration for the award throughout the season.
Headlining the 2018 watch list is 2016 Golden Spikes Award finalist Seth Beer (Clemson), who has been named to the preseason watch list for the second year in a row, as well as Steven Gingery (Texas Tech) and Nick Madrigal (Oregon State), who were semifinalists for the award in 2017.
In addition to those three athletes, the watch list features seven athletes whom the Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board has recognized in the past. Joining Beer on the preseason watch list for the second consecutive year is Luken Baker (TCU), Colton Eastman (Cal State Fullerton), Madrigal and Jake Mangum (Mississippi State). Joey Bart (Georgia Tech), Gingery, Tyler Holton (Florida State), Nolan Kingham (Texas), Madrigal and Casey Mize (Auburn) were all named to the midseason watch list in 2017.
RELATED: Nonconference series to watch
"We are excited to kick off the forty-first year of the Golden Spikes Award with the announcement of 55 preseason watch list nominees," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. "We are anxiously awaiting the start of baseball season and we are excited to follow these players closely during the course of the season before ultimately recognizing one exemplary athlete to join the remarkable group of winners we have had in our history."
Chris Acosta-Tapia (Oklahoma Wesleyan) and Tyler Pittmon (Antelope Valley) represent the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) on the list while Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central), Matthew Liberatore (Mountain Ridge) and Brice Turang (Santiago) are high school athletes recognized by the advisory board on the watch list. These five athletes will look to join Alex Fernandez (1990) and Bryce Harper (2010) who claimed their respective Golden Spikes Awards as non-NCAA Division I athletes.Fifteen different collegiate athletic conferences are represented on the 2018 preseason watch list. The Southeastern Conference leads the way with 15 representatives, while the Atlantic Coast Conference boasts nine selections, and the Big 12 and Pac-12 Conferences have six each.
The University of Florida leads all schools represented on the preseason watch list with four selections. Florida State follows with three athletes on the watch list and California, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Stanford, TCU, Vanderbilt and Wichita State all have a pair of athletes identified on the watch list.
Starting on March 26 and ending April 1, fans will be able to nominate their favorite players for the Golden Spikes Award prior to the reveal of the midseason watch list on April 10. The semifinalists list will be sent to a voting body consisting of baseball media members, select professional baseball personnel, current USA Baseball staff and the 40 previous winners of the award, representing a group of more than 200 voters.
Amateur baseball fans across the country will be able to vote for their favorite players at GoldenSpikesAward.com again in 2018, starting on May 21 with the naming of the Golden Spikes Award semifinalists. On June 6, USA Baseball will announce the finalists and voting will begin that day and last until June 22.
The winner of the 41st Golden Spikes Award will be named on Thursday, June 28, at a presentation in Los Angeles. The finalists and their families will be honored at the Rod Dedeaux Foundation Award Dinner that evening at Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.
USA Baseball has partnered with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to host the Golden Spikes Award since 2013. The Foundation was formed to honor legendary USC and USA Baseball Olympic team coach, Rod Dedeaux, and supports youth baseball and softball programs in underserved communities throughout Southern California.
Last year, Louisville's Brendan McKay took home the prestigious award, joining a group of recent winners that include Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008), and David Price (2007).
The 2018 Golden Spikes Award timeline:
- Monday, March 26: Golden Spikes Award fan nominations begin
- Sunday, April 1: Golden Spikes Award fan nominations end
- Tuesday, April 10: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list announced
- Monday, May 21: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced, voting begins
- Sunday, June 3: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists voting ends
- Wednesday, June 6: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists announced, voting begins
- Friday, June 22: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists voting ends
- Thursday, June 28: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award trophy presentation
A complete list of the 55-player USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list is as follows:
Name, Position, Class, School, Conference
Chris Acosta-Tapia, OF, Sr., Oklahoma Wesleyan, Kansas Collegiate
Johnny Aiello, 3B, Jr., Wake Forest, ACC
D.J. Artis, OF, Jr., Liberty, Big South
Luken Baker, 1B/DH, Jr., TCU, Big 12
Joey Bart, C, Jr., Georgia Tech, ACC
Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Jr., Clemson, ACC
Alec Bohm, 3B, Jr., Wichita State, American Athletic
Kris Bubic, LHP, Jr., Stanford, Pac-12
Michael Byrne, RHP, Jr., Florida, SEC
Tim Cate, LHP, Jr., UCONN, American Athletic
Griffin Conine, OF, Jr., Duke, ACC
Trey Cumbie, LHP, Jr., Houston, American Athletic
Gianluca Dalatri, RHP, So., North Carolina, ACC
Tanner Dodson, UT, Jr., California, Pac-12
Colton Eastman, RHP, Jr., Cal State Fullerton, Big West
Jeremy Eierman, SS, Jr., Missouri State, Missouri Valley
Tyler Frank, SS, Jr., Florida Atlantic, Conference USA
Logan Gilbert, RHP, Jr., Stetson, Atlantic Sun
Steven Gingery, LHP, Jr., Texas Tech, Big 12
Ethan Hankins, RHP, Sr., Forsyth Central High School
Zack Hess, RHP, So., LSU, SEC
Sean Hjelle, RHP, Jr., Kentucky, SEC
Nico Hoerner, SS, Jr., Stanford, Pac-12
Tyler Holton, LHP/DH, Jr., Florida State, ACC
Niko Hulsizer, OF, Jr., Morehead State, Ohio Valley
Jonathan India, 3B, Jr., Florida, SEC
Julian Infante, 1B/DH, Jr., Vanderbilt, SEC
Jared Janczak, RHP, Jr., TCU, Big 12
Greyson Jenista, 1B/OF, Jr., Wichita State, American Athletic
Nolan Kingham, RHP, Jr., Texas, Big 12
Jackson Kowar, RHP, Jr., Florida, SEC
Shea Langeliers, C, So., Baylor, Big 12
Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Sr., Mountain Ridge High School
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Jr., Oregon State, Pac-12
Jake Mangum, OF, Jr., Mississippi State, SEC
Jake McCarthy, OF, Jr., Virginia, ACC
Shane McClanahan, LHP, Jr, South Florida, American Athletic
Drew Mendoza, 3B, So., Florida State, ACC
Casey Mize, RHP, Jr., Auburn, SEC
Konnor Pilkington, LHP, Jr., Mississippi State, SEC
Tyler Pittmon, IF, Sr., Antelope Valley, California Pacific
Tristan Pompey, OF, Jr., Kentucky, SEC
Patrick Raby, RHP, Jr., Vanderbilt, SEC
Cal Raleigh, C, Jr., Florida State, ACC
Alfonso Rivas, 1B, Jr., Arizona, Pac-12
Ryan Rolison, LHP, So., Ole Miss, SEC
Braden Shewmake, 2B, So., Texas A&M, SEC
Brady Singer, RHP, Jr., Florida, SEC
Nick Sprengel, LHP, Jr., San Diego, West Coast
Travis Swaggerty, OF, Jr., South Alabama, Sun Belt
Brice Turang, SS, Sr., Santiago High School
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, So., California, Pac-12
Steele Walker, OF, JR, Oklahoma, Big 12
Matt Wallner, UT, So., Southern Miss, Conference USA
Zach Watson, OF, So., LSU, SEC