Tuesday June 5, 2012UF's Mike Zunino Named Finalist For USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award
Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was announced on Tuesday as one of the three finalists for the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award (GSA). He joins Brad Wilkerson (1997) and Matt LaPorta (2007) as finalists from the University of Florida in school history. This summer marks the 35th consecutive year that the GSA will be presented to the nation’s top amateur baseball player.
Mark Appel, a junior right-handed pitcher from Stanford; Carlos Rodon, a freshman left-handed pitcher out of North Carolina State; and Zunino received the most votes among 30 semifinalists last week, as voted on by a committee of more than 200 members. Each of the three players enters Super Regional competition this week in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Zunino (No. 3 overall to the Seattle Mariners) and Appel (No. 8 overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates) were selected in the first round of Monday night’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, while Rodon represents the first freshman GSA finalist since Bryce Harper (Southern Nevada) in 2010.
Fans can continue to stay up to date on the GSA by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com -- powered by MLB.com -- 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 for the 2012 finalists.
For the second year in a row, the GSA will be awarded live on MLB Network. On Friday, July 6, the three finalists for the award will be at MLB Network’s studios for the presentation on The Rundown, which will feature interviews, video highlights and the announcement of the winner. The presentation will also be simulcast live on MLB.com and GoldenSpikesAward.com.
“Congratulations to the three finalists, Mark Appel, Carlos Rodon and Mike Zunino, and each of their respective college baseball programs,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. “This is an exciting time of year with the MLB Draft and postseason accolades, but we know they are most proud of their team's current on-field success. We wish them luck with not only the award, but in their quest for Omaha as well.”
Appel carries a line of 10-1, 2.27 ERA, 127 strikeouts, 26 walks, and 119 innings pitched into the Cardinal’s Super Regional against Florida State this weekend. The Houston native is coming off Regional Tournament MVP honors following an 11-strikeout, four-hitter in a 9-1 win over Fresno State last Friday. Appel is the Pac-12 strikeout leader, a two-time conference Pitcher of the Week, a Pac-12 All-Conference selection, and he was named First Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger. Appel competed on the 2011 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, and he is the first GSA finalist from Stanford since Carlos Quentin in 2003.
Rodon is a perfect 9-0 on the season, with a 1.61 ERA, 132 strikeouts and 41 walks in 111 2/3 innings pitched. He was the lone freshman on the list of 30 GSA semifinalists from which the finalists were selected. The Holly Springs, N.C., native leads the Wolfpack into a Super Regional against Florida, June 9-11, and at the conclusion of his postseason run, he is scheduled to join the 2012 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team on its summer tour. Rodon was named First Team All-ACC, ACC Freshman of the Year, ACC Pitcher of the Year, and First Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger. He is the first GSA finalist ever from North Carolina State.
Zunino will be across the diamond from Rodon this weekend, as the Gator backstop heads into Super Regional play with a .316 batting average, 18 home runs, 60 RBIs, 73 hits, and 50 runs scored. Last weekend, Zunino was voted to the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team for the third-consecutive season. So far this season, the Cape Coral, Fla., native has received First Team All-SEC honors, was recognized as a First Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger, and he has been named a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award.
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 2012. 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 30 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 2012 GSA by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com and selecting their favorite finalist. Voting for fans and the voting body ends at 5:00 p.m. ET, on Friday, June 15.
No. 1 Florida (45-18) opens the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on Saturday at 2 p.m. by hosting No. 16 NC State (43-18). The game will be carried on ESPNUHD.