Return of the POY: Alabama's Keegan Thompson

The Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year selection process is in full swing, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for.

Name: Keegan Thompson

School: Cullman (Ala.)

Grade: Junior

Position: Right-handed pitcher/shortstop

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 165 pounds

2011 W-L-S: 8-1-0

2011 IP: 72

2011 ERA: 1.46

2011 K-BB: 107-14

2011 BA: .423

2011 HR: 15

2011 RBI: 61

2011 R: 54

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Alabama Baseball Player of the Year. No. 20 ranked prospect in Class of 2013 as rated by ESPNHS. Led the Bearcats (45-11) to the 2011 Class 5A state championship series. 2011 Class 5A First Team All-State selection as named by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. 2010 ASWA Class 5A Honorable Mention All-State selection.

Academics: A-minus average

College: Auburn University (verbal)

Extracurricular activities: In addition to donating his time as a youth baseball instructor, he has volunteered on behalf of the Challenger Division of Little League and as part of cleanup efforts to benefit recovery projects affected by recent tornados.

William Booth, head coach of rival Hartselle (Ala.): “He’s the best player in the state. He throws 92-93 miles per hour, bats cleanup and plays shortstop for one of the best teams in the state. I watched him pitch against Madison Academy in the first round of the state tournament, and he struck out 15 of the 16 batters he faced. He’s only a sophomore, but he’s outstanding.”

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning boys soccer underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11.

Kevin Davis: Junior right-handed pitcher, T.R. Miller (Brewton, Ala.)

Sam Gillikin: Senior outfielder, Hoover (Ala.)

Mathew Goodson: Senior centerfielder, Oxford (Ala.)

Tucker Simpson: Senior right-handed pitcher/first baseman, Oxford (Ala.)

Hunter Swilling: Junior infielder, Russell County (Seale, Ala.)

Mikey White: Senior shortstop, Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.)

Jameis Winston: Senior right-handed pitcher/shortstop/outfielder, Hueytown (Ala.)

Izaac Yarbrough: Senior left-handed pitcher/outfielder, Vinemont (Ala.)

A dedicated ESPNHS POY team manages the Gatorade Player of the Year selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the program’s behalf. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNHS recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.