DURHAM, N.C. – Arkansas sophomore right-hander Blaine Knight is one of 40 players named by USA Baseball to the midseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List unveiled Wednesday afternoon. Sponsored by Major League Baseball, the 40th Golden Spikes Award recognizes the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2017 season and will be presented on June 29 in Los Angeles.
Knight follows former teammate Zach Jackson, who was named to the preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List prior to the 2016 season and outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who won the 38th Golden Spikes Award in 2015. Benintendi was the second player in school history to be a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, joining Philip Stidham in 1991.
The midseason watch list features 40 of the nation’s top amateur players from the college ranks. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will continue to maintain a rolling list of athletes, allowing players to play themselves into consideration for the award before announcing the semifinalists on May 31.
Knight has been one of the more dominant pitchers in the Southeastern Conference this season as he’s racked up five wins, four in conference play, and a 1.94 ERA with 54 strikeouts and only five walks. Since league play began four weeks ago, Knight has had four-straight quality starts with at least six strikeouts and is one of two starting pitchers with a sub-2.00 ERA against conference hitters.
The Bryant, Arkansas, native also has one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the nation, currently recording more than 10 strikeouts for every walk, which is tops in the SEC and seventh in the country.
Knight already has two 10+ strikeout performances to his resume this season, coming against No. 5 Arizona (10) in the Frisco College Classic and Mississippi State (11) in the SEC opener for the Razorbacks. In both of those games, Knight didn’t walk a single hitter. Those performances made him the first Razorback with 10 or more strikeouts in multiple appearances in the same season since Drew Smyly in 2010.
In just two seasons with the Razorbacks, Knight has already amassed 100 strikeouts in 94.2 innings and has seven wins in 26 appearances with a 2.47 career ERA, the lowest among all starters on the Arkansas pitching staff.
Since 1978, USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the Golden Spikes Award. Following the first-ever presentation of the Award to Bob Horner of Arizona State, the Golden Spikes Award has been presented each year to the player who exhibits exceptional athletic ability and exemplary sportsmanship.