DURHAM, N.C. – Arkansas junior right-hander Zach Jackson has been named one of 50 players by USA Baseball on the preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List, unveiled on Tuesday. Sponsored by Major League Baseball, the 39th Golden Spikes Award recognizes the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2016 season and will be presented on June 30 in Los Angeles.
Jackson will look to follow in the footsteps of Arkansas sophomore outfield Andrew Benintendi, who won the 38th Golden Spikes Award last year before being selected by the Boston Red Sox with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. Benintendi was the second player in school history to be a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, joining Philip Stidham in 1991.
The Golden Spikes Watch List features 50 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 athletes, allowing players to play themselves into consideration for the award throughout the season.
Jackson was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List on Monday and has been named a preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Perfect Game.
The Berryhill, Okla. product finished his sophomore campaign with a 5-1 record, nine saves, a 2.10 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 60 inning of work. Six of Jackson’s nine saves in 2014 came in SEC action, while the other three came in NCAA postseason play, including back-to-back games against Oklahoma State and St. John’s en route to earning a spot on the NCAA Stillwater Regional All-Tournament team.
Jackson was especially dominant down the stretch, allowing just two earned runs over his final 12 outings and 20.2 innings of the year. His most memorable outing came in game three of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional when he took the mound in the sixth inning against Missouri State. He retired 11 straight hitters, including six strikeouts, helping the Razorbacks capture a 3-2 victory and the program’s eighth bid to the College World Series.
Over his two seasons, Jackson has 133 strikeouts in 102.2 innings of work with seven wins and 11 saves. Jackson has at least one strikeout in 41 of his 46 career relief appearances, including multiple punch outs in 30 of those outings.
Since 1978, 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, the Golden Spikes Award has been presented each year to the player who exhibits exceptional athletic ability and exemplary sportsmanship.