The Big Ten’s top three MLB Draft prospects, Ohio State RHP/DH Josh Dezse, Michigan outfielder Michael O’Neill and Minnesota left-handed pitcher Tom Windle, have each had a high honor bestowed upon them on the eve of college baseball’s opening day. On Thursday, USA Baseball announced the three Big Ten juniors are among 50 of college baseball’s top players, selecting them to its Golden Spikes Preseason Watch List.
Sponsored by Major League Baseball, USA Baseball presents the Golden Spikes Award to the top amateur player in the country. Recent recipients of the award include, 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey (Florida State, 2008), 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price (2007, Vanderbilt) and 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper (College of Southern Nevada, 2010).
Though out of action for at least the first two months of the season due to a back injury, Dezse has established himself as one of the nation’s most talented two-way players. A career .318 hitter with 11 home runs, Dezse has been entrenched in the heart of Greg Beals lineup from the outset of his freshman season when he was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year. On the mound, Dezse has 4.18 ERA with 13 saves, possessing a fastball that has been recorded as fast as 100 MPH, a big arm that saw him enter the season among the top 100 college prospects for the 2013 draft.
A high school teammate of Dezse’s at Central Ohio’s Olentangy Liberty, O’Neill is a top talent in his own right. A five-tool player that possesses speed, power and a plus-arm, the Wolverine right fielder led Michigan in batting average (.327), slugging percentage (.525) and doubles (12). Seventh all time at Michigan with 49 stolen bases, through 94 games, the 2011 All-Big Ten Second-team outfielder has a .316 average with eight home runs, 19 doubles and 59 RBI.
Windle has fought the injury bug of his own, battling through a shoulder injury in 2012 that removed him from the Gophers rotation. The injury didn’t keep the Gopher ace from being successful however. Pitching 41.1 innings, Windle carried a 3.27 ERA over 18 appearances. With a 1.28 WHIP, Windle recorded 37 strikeouts, Windle posting a K/9 of 8.05 against 17 walks. The southpaw carried his strong spring into the summer as he was named a Cape Cod League All-Star.
Following the release of a second, 60-player Watch List on Thursday, May 2, USA Baseball officials will announce the 30 semifinalists for the 2013 Golden Spikes Award on Tuesday, May 28. The list of 30 will then be sent to a voting body consisting of past USA Baseball National Team coaches and press officers, members of the media that closely follow the amateur game, select professional baseball personnel and current USA Baseball staff, representing a group of more than 200 voters in total.
The Golden Spikes Award trophy will be awarded live on MLB Network for the third year in a row, with a live presentation scheduled during “The Rundown” on Friday, July 19. Through USA Baseball’s partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), the presentation will also be simulcast with a live stream available from GoldenSpikesAward.com and USABaseball.com.