Press release USA Baseball
DURHAM, N.C. – USA Baseball announced the four finalists for the 2019 Golden Spikes Award on Wednesday. JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt), Adley Rutschman (Oregon State) and Noah Song (Navy) join reigning Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Vaughn (California) as the final four amateur baseball players contending for the 42nd Golden Spikes Award.
Presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the winner will be announced on Thursday, June 13, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, during “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN2 prior to the GEICO Summer Series MLB game between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.
“On behalf of USA Baseball and the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, we are pleased to name JJ Bleday, Adley Rutschman, Noah Song and Andrew Vaughn the four finalists for the 2019 Golden Spikes Award,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director and CEO. “These four athletes have each had tremendous seasons at their respective schools and have proven to be truly worthy honorees of this recognition. We look forward to celebrating their achievements with them and their families, and naming the forty-second Golden Spikes Award winner in Omaha.”
Commodores outfielder JJ Bleday was named the SEC Player of the Year in 2019 after leading the conference in slugging percentage (.748), home runs (25) and total bases (160), as well as breaking the Vanderbilt single-season home run record. Currently ranked in the top 10 of five offensive categories in the NCAA, Bleday leads the nation in home runs (26), is second in home runs per game (.44), fourth in total bases (173), seventh in total runs scored (72) and eighth in slugging percentage (.752). Bleday is the sixth Commodore to be named a Golden Spikes Award finalist and the first since 2015 (Carson Fulmer, Dansby Swanson).
After earning College World Series MVP honors and leading Oregon State to the national championship in 2018, Adley Rutschman followed with a junior season that garnered Pac-12 Player of the Year, Co-Defensive Player of the Year and Batting Champion honors. The switch-hitting catcher also manages the pitching staff for the Beavers–who currently ranks second in the country in Team ERA (2.98)–and ranks in the top 10 nationally in five offensive categories including leading the nation in on-base percentage (.580), walks (73) and walks per game (1.33). Additionally, he ranks fourth in batting average (.419) and sixth in slugging percentage (.765). Rutschman is the second Golden Spikes Award finalist to come from Oregon State University after Michael Conforto earned that recognition in 2014.
Navy right-hander Noah Song pieced together a record-breaking senior season where he was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year, set three program records in Annapolis and was named the first-ever Golden Spikes Award finalist in Navy history. He currently owns the career wins record (32) and holds a share of the program record for career shutouts (9). Additionally, his 428 career strikeouts are both a Navy and a Patriot League record. Song leads the nation in three pitching categories, including strikeouts with 161–which also broke a 59-year-old Navy record for strikeouts in a single season–wins (11) and strikeouts per nine-innings (15.41). He also ranks second in the nation in complete games (6), sixth in ERA (1.44) and seventh in total hits allowed per nine innings (5.27).
Andrew Vaughn followed his Golden Spikes Award-winning sophomore season with another outstanding year in Berkeley, being named to the All-Pac-12 team for the second straight year. He currently ranks second in the nation for walks per game (1.16), third in on-base percentage (.549) and eighth for walks (58). His .387 batting average ranks him in the top five in the Pac-12 Conference and he has posted three multi-home run games and 18 games with two or more hits. Vaughn is the second California Golden Bear to be named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, joining Lance Blankenship who was named a finalist in 1984.
Vaughn is the 17th amateur baseball player to be named a Golden Spikes Award finalist for a second time and is the first since David Price earned back-to-back finalist recognitions in 2006 and 2007. The California first baseman joins Jim Abbott and Mark Kotsay as the only previous winners to be named a finalist again the year after winning the award; but, he will look to become the first-ever athlete to be named the Golden Spikes Award winner for a second time.
The 2019 winner will look to join a group of recent winners that include Vaughn (2018), Brendan McKay (2017), 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).
Historically, Golden Spikes Award winners have gone on to have tremendous success in Major League Baseball. Of the 41 previous winners, five have earned Rookie of the Year honors, two have won the Cy Young, three were named MVP and 10 have won a World Series championship as a player or manager, combining for a total of 16 championships. In addition, 18 previous winners have made one or more All-Star Game appearances as a player or manager, combining for 56 total selections.
A final ballot will be sent to the Golden Spikes Award voting body consisting of national baseball media, select professional baseball personnel, previous Golden Spikes Award winners and select USA Baseball staff, totaling a group of over 200 voters. From Wednesday, May 29, through Monday, June 10, the voting body will cast their final vote for the Golden Spikes Award winner and fan voting will simultaneously be open on GoldenSpikesAward.com. Selections made by the voting body will carry a 95 percent weight of each athlete’s total, while fan votes will account for the remaining five percent.
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.
For more information on the Golden Spikes Award and the four 2018 finalists, follow along on social media @USAGoldenSpikes on Instagram and Twitter.
Golden Spikes Award Winners:
2018: Andrew Vaughn – California
2017: Brendan McKay – Louisville
2016: Kyle Lewis – Mercer
2015: Andrew Benintendi – Arkansas
2014: A.J. Reed – Kentucky
2013: Kris Bryant – San Diego
2012: Mike Zunino – Florida
2011: Trevor Bauer – UCLA
2010: Bryce Harper – Southern Nevada
2009: Stephen Strasburg – San Diego State
2008: Buster Posey – Florida State
2007: David Price – Vanderbilt
2006: Tim Lincecum – Washington
2005: Alex Gordon – Nebraska
2004: Jered Weaver – Long Beach State
2003: Rickie Weeks – Southern
2002: Khalil Greene – Clemson
2001: Mark Prior – Southern California
2000: Kip Bouknight – South Carolina
1999: Jason Jennings – Baylor
1998: Pat Burrell – Miami
1997: J.D. Drew – Florida State
1996: Travis Lee – San Diego State
1995: Mark Kotsay – Cal State Fullerton
1994: Jason Varitek – Georgia Tech
1993: Darren Dreifort – Wichita State
1992: Phil Nevin – Cal State Fullerton
1991: Mike Kelly – Arizona State
1990: Alex Fernandez – Miami Dade CC
1989: Ben McDonald – LSU
1988: Robin Ventura – Oklahoma State
1987: Jim Abbott – Michigan
1986: Mike Loynd – Florida State
1985: Will Clark – Mississippi State
1984: Oddibe McDowell – Arizona State
1983: Dave Magadan – Alabama
1982: Augie Schmidt – New Orleans
1981: Mike Fuentes – Florida State
1980: Terry Francona – Arizona
1979: Tim Wallach – Cal State Fullerton
1978: Bob Horner – Arizona State