The window on the Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.
Senior right-handed pitcher/shortstop, Fairhope (Ala.)
2012 Team record: 38-7 (Class 6A)
2012 Team standing: Lost Class 6A state final to Oxford, 0-2, 5-3 and 7-12; Ranked No. 30 on ESPNHS FAB 50
2012 W-L record: 11-1
2012 ERA: 0.46
2012 Strikeouts: 128
2012 Batting average: .347
2012 RBI: 42
2012 Runs: 40
Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Pensacola State College
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Finished 4-1 with a 0.88 ERA and 51 strikeouts against six walks in 32 innings pitched over five playoff starts on the mound. Averaged 1.7 strikeouts per inning. 2012 Louisville Slugger Preseason First Team All-American as named by Collegiate Baseball. 2012 Preseason Honorable Mention All-Region selection as named by Perfect Game USA. 2011 Perfect Game USA Preseason Underclassmen Honorable Mention All-American selection.
Senior shortstop/right-handed pitcher, Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.)
2012 Team record: 35-17 (Class 6A)
2012 Team standing: Lost Class 6A state semifinals to Oxford, 3-2, 4-5 and 1-4
2012 Batting average: .389
2012 RBI: 37
2012 Runs: 46
2012 W-L record: 8-2
2012 ERA: 1.13
2012 Strikeouts: 61
Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: University of Alabama
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Recorded a .991 fielding percentage. Owned a .524 on-base percentage and .712 slugging percentage. Stole 19 bases. Registered a 6.7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. No. 58 ranked prospect in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS. 2011 USA Baseball 18U National Team member (2011 Pan American Games gold medalist). 2012 Louisville Slugger Preseason First Team All-American as named by Collegiate Baseball. 2012 Rawlings Preseason Second Team All-American as named by Perfect Game USA. 2011 Under Armour All-America Game selection. 2011 East Coast Professional Showcase invitee. 2011 Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 6A First Team All-State selection. 2010 and 2011 Birmingham News First Team All-Metro selection. 2011 Perfect Game USA Preseason Underclassmen Second Team All-American.
Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.
David Dahl: Senior outfielder, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)
Jordan Ebert: Senior shortstop, Baldwin County (Minette, Ala.)
Dylan Smith: Senior second baseman, Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Ala.)
Jackson Stephens: Senior right-handed pitcher/third baseman, Oxford (Ala.)
Keegan Thompson: Junior right-handed pitcher/shortstop, Cullman (Ala.)
Jameis Winston: Senior right-handed pitcher, Hueytown (Ala.)
Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.