If his manager had a say, J.J. Wetherholt would win the Golden Spikes Award. For the people who actually vote on it, however, the West Virginia star wasn’t even in the top three.
The Golden Spikes Award is given annually to the top amateur baseball player in the nation and its voting body is made up of national baseball media, select professional baseball personnel, USA Baseball staff and previous winners of the award. On Wednesday, it was announced that the finalists for the 2023 award are LSU’s Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes and Florida’s Jac Caglianone.
Wetherholt led the nation with a .449 batting average this season, tying the WVU single-season record with 101 hits. He had a .517 on-base percentage and a .787 slugging percentage to make up a 1.304 OPS.
He led the Mountaineers to perhaps their best season ever, matching the program record with 40 wins, a share of their first Big 12 Championship and their first regional appearance since 2019.
“Part of this season was having a guy I feel is deserving of the Golden Spikes (Award),” WVU coach Randy Mazey said after the team’s last game against Kentucky on Sunday. “He’s had the best season I’ve ever seen by a single player, but beyond that, the type of teammate he is, the type of leader he is, what he does off the field is equally as impressive and what he does on the field. I’ve never been a part of a season like that.”
Wetherholt won WVU’s first Big 12 Player of the Year Award and led the Mountaineers in home runs (16), doubles (24), RBI (60), stolen bases (36) and runs (67).
Only a sophomore, Wetherholt is not eligible for the MLB Draft and has publicly committed to returning to WVU in 2024.
“He only hit .450, which means he makes more outs than he gets hits,” Mazey joked. “J.J. just needs to continue to be J.J. What adjectives could you use, what superlatives could you use to describe that guy? Nobody’s ever been perfect at the game of baseball, but he’s been as close as you can get.”
Crews has hit .432 with 17 home runs and 63 RBI for the Tigers while Skenes is 11-2 in 16 starts with a 1.90 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 99 1/3 innings. Caglianone, a two-way player for the Gators, has hit .337 with 31 home runs and 84 RBI and is 7-3 in 16 starts with a 3.78 ERA.
The Golden Spike Award winner will be announced on June 25 ahead of game two of the College World Series finals on ESPN.