Durham, N.C. – Tony Thomas, Jr. was named one of five finalists for the 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award as announced by USA Baseball on Thursday, May 31. This year will mark the 30th consecutive year that the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award has been presented to the nation’s premier amateur baseball player. The winner’s name will be announced on June 29, 2007, during the 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Show presented by Major League Baseball on ESPNU.
Thomas leads the nation in doubles per game (0.55) and is tied for the national lead in runs per game at 1.50. He currently ranks fourth in hitting with a .442 average, the third highest single-season average in school history. At the ACC Tournament in Jacksonville, the junior second baseman became the first Seminole player to register 30 doubles, 100 hits and 30 stolen bases in a single-season. Thomas, the ACC Player of the Year in 2007, also leads the league in seven offensive statistical categories while ranking in the top 10 in four others.
Earlier this week, Thomas was recognized as a National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball and a Louisville Slugger first-team All-American. Thomas is the first-ever USA Baseball Youth National Team alumnus (2002) to be recognized as a USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Finalist. Past Florida State winners of the Golden Spikes Award include J.D. Drew (1997), Mike Loynd (1986) and Mike Fuentes (1984).
The other four finalists on this year’s ballot include Vanderbilt’s Pedro Alvarez and David Price, Florida’s Matt LaPorta and Kyle Russell of Texas. All five finalists have past international experience with USA Baseball.
The five finalists for the 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award presented by Major League Baseball, listed alphabetically, are as follows:
Pedro Alvarez – Vanderbilt – 3B – Sophomore – New York, NY
The Commodores’ third-baseman is currently hitting .397, with 17 HR’s and 65 RBI’s. He leads SEC hitters in hits, runs, and total bases and was the SEC Tournament MVP. Alvarez is a 2007 1st Team All-SEC selection and was a member of the 2006 USA Baseball National Team.
Matt LaPorta – Florida – 1B – Senior – Port Charlotte, FL
The 2005 USA Baseball National Team alumnus is the sole senior among the Finalists. He is a two-time SEC Player of the Year (2005 and 2007), and hit .402, with 20 HR’s, 52 RBI’s and 55 BB’s in 2007. LaPorta is the first USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalist from the University of Florida since Brad Wilkerson (1998).
David Price – Vanderbilt – LHP – Junior – Murfreesboro, TN
The two-time USA Baseball National Team pitcher (2005 and 2006) was named the 2007 SEC Pitcher of the Year. Price is 11-0 with a 2.71 ERA during the 2007 campaign. He has recorded 175 K’s while only walking 29 batters and leads the SEC in 5 pitching categories including innings pitched, strikeouts, and wins. Price was also a finalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award in 2006 and is the first two-time finalists since Pat Burrell (Miami-FL) in 1997 and 1998.
Kyle Russell – Texas – RF – Sophomore – Tomball, TX
The 2007 Big 12 Player of the Year has hit 27 HR’s and driven in 70 runs during the 2007 season. He has also hit for average – .341 – to go along with a .825 SLG%. Russell was a member of the 2004 USA Baseball Junior National Team which competed in the IBAF World Junior Championships in Taiwan. He is the third finalist from the University of Texas in the past four years (Drew Stubbs – 2006 and Huston Street – 2004).
Tony Thomas, Jr. – Florida State – 2B – Junior – Valrico, FL
In 2007, he has hit .442 with 32 doubles and 30 SB’s for the Seminoles. He has already collected 2007 ACC Player of the Year honors. The last year Florida State produced a finalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award was 2001 (John–Ford Griffin).
In 2007 USA Baseball instituted a new selection and balloting procedure for the most prestigious award in amateur baseball. After accepting nominations from sports information directors across the country, a committee voted to determine the 50 semi-finalists. The names of the 50 semi-finalists were forwarded to a voting body of 125 who selected the 5 finalists. The same voting body will select the 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Winner.
“This is always an exciting time of the year in the college baseball community and our organization is pleased for the 30th consecutive year to recognize the finalists for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award”, said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “There are so many storylines with this year’s class of finalists that the next few weeks will be very exciting as we approach the announcement of the winner.”
For the past 29 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.
USA Baseball is the National Governing Body of amateur baseball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The organization selects and trains the USA Baseball National Team, the USA Baseball Junior National Team (18-under), the USA Baseball Youth National Team (16-under), the USA Baseball 14U National Team (14-under), and the USA Baseball Women’s National Team which participate in various international competitions each year. For more information on USA Baseball please log onto www.usabaseball.com.