As the college baseball season draws to a close, USA Baseball has announced its three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top player in the nation.
For the first time since 2015, the award will be won by a player from the SEC. Vanderbilt starting pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter and Arkansas stud reliever Kevin Kopps are the three finalists.
“These three athletes have not only put together incredible seasons for their respective schools on the field, but have also proven to be truly worthy honorees of this recognition off the field as well," USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler said. "We look forward to celebrating this well-deserved accolade with each of them and welcoming them into a tremendous fraternity of Golden Spikes Award winners."
This is the second time ever that all of the finalists for the prestigious honor are pitchers, with the first time being in 2011. It's also the second time all the finalists are from the same league.
Back in 2015, Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi won the Golden Spikes Award, beating out fellow future big leaguers Alex Bregman (LSU) and Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer (Vanderbilt).
Both Rocker and Leiter are projected to be top-10 picks in the 2021 MLB Draft next month. Their Vanderbilt squad is still alive in the College World Series after a wild come-from-behind win over Stanford in last night's elimination game.
Kopps, meanwhile, has already been named the SEC Pitcher of the Year and the 2021 Dick Howser Trophy winner.