CARY, N.C. — USA Baseball today revealed the Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List, kicking off the process of identifying the nation’s top amateur baseball player for the 2023 season.
The 2023 preseason list includes 55 athletes from the ranks of high school and college baseball. Moving forward, the Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will maintain the award’s watchlist on a rolling basis, allowing athletes to play themselves into consideration for the award based on their performances throughout the season.
“We are thrilled to begin the amateur baseball season with the announcement of the fifty-five-player Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. “The student-athletes on this list are some of the nation’s best and brightest, both on and off the field. We look forward to watching them compete in what will surely be an exciting baseball season.”
Ten members of the 2023 Preseason Watch List have been named Golden Spikes Award semifinalists before, including Dylan Crews (LSU), who also appeared on the 2022 preseason and midseason lists. In addition, fellow 2022 semifinalist Tommy White (LSU) and 2021 semifinalist Paul Skenes (LSU) are also on the preseason list to begin the season, touting LSU as the only school with three former Golden Spikes Award semifinalists on its roster.
Carlos Contreras (Sam Houston), Kendal Ewell (Kentucky), Jake Gelof (Virginia), Ryan Lasko (Rutgers), and Jacob Wilson (Grand Canyon) join Crews and White as position players from the group of last year’s semifinalists to earn Preseason Watch List honors in 2023. Meanwhile, pitchers Chase Burns (Tennessee) and Tanner Hall (Southern Miss) also locked in spots on the preseason list after being named semifinalists in 2022.
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Burns is one of three Volunteers pitchers on the list, joining Drew Beam (Tennessee) and Chase Dollander (Tennessee). The trio also appeared together on the 2022 midseason list.
In addition to Beam, Burns, and Dollander, seven other players from the 2022 Midseason Watch List are on this year’s initial list. Enrique Bradfield Jr. (Vanderbilt), Contreras, Crews, Gelof, Jack Hurley (Virginia Tech), Nolan Schanuel (FAU), and Wilson were all on last season’s midseason list, while Bradfield, Crews, Jacob Gonzalez (Ole Miss), Tre’ Morgan (LSU), Skenes, and Brayden Taylor (TCU) all earned spots on the preseason list for the second straight year.
|Jeremy Adorno||RHP||Southern Arkansas|
|Enrique Bradfield Jr.||OF||Vanderbilt|
|Max Clark||INF||Franklin High School|
|Carlos Contreras||OF||Sam Houston State|
|Wyatt Crowell||LHP||Florida State|
|Hunter Elliot||LHP||Ole Miss|
|Evan Giordano||3B||Stony Brook|
|Jacob Gonzalez||INF||Ole Miss|
|LuJames Groover III||INF||NC State|
|Tanner Hall||RHP||Southern Miss|
|Vance Honeycutt||OF||North Carolina|
|Jack Hurley||OF||Virginia Tech|
|Mitch Jebb||INF||Michigan State|
|Walter Jenkins||OF||South Brunswick High School|
|Kennedy Jones||INF/OF||UNC Greensboro|
|Caden Kendle||OF||UC Irvine|
|Sam Kulasingam||INF||Air Force|
|Nick Kurtz||INF/OF||Wake Forest|
|Rhett Lowder||RHP||Wake Forest|
|Nolan McLean||OF/INF/RHP||Oklahoma State|
|John Michael Faile II||C||North Greenville|
|Yohandy Morales||INF||Miami (Fla.)|
|Will Sanders||RHP||South Carolina|
|Bobby Sparling||OF||Saint Leo|
|Juaron Watts-Brown||RHP||Oklahoma State|
|Levi Wells||RHP||Texas State|
|Jacob Wilson||INF||Grand Canyon|
Five athletes on this year’s Preseason Watch List will seek to become the third non-NCAA Division I player to win the Golden Spikes Award. Jeremy Adorno (Southern Arkansas), John Michael Faile II (North Greenville), and Bobby Sparling (Saint Leo) each represent NCAA Division II collegiate athletes on the list, joined by high schoolers Max Clark (Franklin High School) and Walker Jenkins (South Brunswick High School). Currently, Alex Fernandez (1990) and Bryce Harper (2010) are the only players from a non-NCAA Division I school to win the award.
In total, 40 schools and 16 conferences are represented on this year’s Preseason Watch List. LSU and Tennessee lead all schools with four student-athletes appearing on the list, followed closely by Stanford with three. Seven other schools placed a pair of selections to begin their seasons: Florida, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wake Forest.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) boasts 17 athletes on the 55-player list, followed by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with 10, five from the Pac-12 Conference, and four from the Big Ten Conference.
Texas’ Ivan Melendez is the most recent winner of the Golden Spikes Award, earning the prestigious honor after a standout campaign in 2022. He joins a group of recent winners, including Kevin Kopps (2021), Adley Rutschman (2019), Andrew Vaughn (2018), Brendan McKay (2017), Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008) and David Price (2007).
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The 2023 Golden Spikes Award timeline is as follows:
April 5: Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List announced
May 22: Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced and fan voting begins
June 5: Golden Spikes Award semifinalists fan voting ends
June 7: Golden Spikes Award finalists announced and fan voting begins
June 21: Golden Spikes Award finalists fan voting ends
June 25: Golden Spikes Award winner announced
Fan voting will again play a part in the Golden Spikes Award in 2023. Amateur baseball fans can vote for their favorite players on GoldenSpikesAward.com, beginning on May 22 with the naming of the semifinalists. USA Baseball will announce the finalists for the award on June 7, and fan voting will once again open at GoldenSpikesAward.com before closing on June 21.
To stay up to date on the 2023 Golden Spikes Award, visit GoldenSpikesAward.com and follow @USAGoldenSpikes on Instagram and Twitter.