#BennyBaseball Named Golden Spikes Finalist

FAYETTEVILE, Ark. – Arkansas sophomore outfielder Andrew Benintendi is one of four players named a finalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, which recognizes the top amateur baseball player in the country.

The award, which is sponsored by Major League Baseball and presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, will be presented to the nation’s top amateur baseball player for the 38th consecutive season live on SportsCenter on June 23.

Following the announcement, all four finalists will be celebrated at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles as part of the 2015 Rod Dedeaux Award Dinner. Hosted by the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the dinner will honor the Golden Spikes Award finalists, the Rod Dedeaux Award winner and the Rod Dedeaux USA Baseball Coach of the Year award winner.

Benintendi becomes the second Arkansas player in school history to be a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, joining Philip Stidham who was named one of eight finalists in 1991. The awards keep piling up for Benintendi, who was named the SEC Player of the Year by the league’s head coaches, before garnering the program’s first National Player of the Year honors by Collegiate Baseball.

The Cincinnati native is on the brink of becoming the third player in SEC history to lead the league in home runs and batting average, currently holding a two-homer lead and 13-point edge in batting average. Benintendi would join Rafael Palmeiro (Miss State in ‘84) and Jeff Abbott (UK in ‘94) as the only players in conference history to accomplish the feat.

The sophomore is one of two players in the country to rank in the top 15 in home runs and batting average and one of two individuals in the nation with 15-plus home runs and 20-plus stolen bases.

In the best baseball conference in America, Benintendi leads the SEC in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage and walks, and is the only player in the nation to rank in the top 25 nationally in every category.

Projected as a top 10 pick in next week’s Major League Baseball Draft by MLB senior writer Jim Callis, Benintendi would become seventh first round pick in program history and the first since Ryne Stanek in 2013. Only two Razorbacks have ever been selected in the top 20 picks of the MLB Draft, as Jeff King was taken No. 1 overall by the Pirates in 1986 and Kevin McReynolds went sixth overall to the Padres in 1981.

The Southeastern Conference is guaranteed the Golden Spikes Award, as Benintendi is joined by Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer and Dansby Swanson and LSU’s Alex Bregman as the other finalist. The SEC will win the award for the third time in the last four years and the eighth time in the 38-year history of the award.

Last year, University of Kentucky’s two-way star, A.J. Reed, took home the prestigious award, joining a group of recent winners that includes Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Buster Posey (2008).

GoldenSpikesAward.com — created in 2008 and powered by MLB Advanced Media — is the online home for the award.  The website features content devoted exclusively to the GSA, including news, the weekly Golden Spikes Award spotlight, voting history and past winner photo galleries.

Benintendi and the Razorbacks return to action Friday evening, welcoming Missouri State to town for the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional at Baum Stadium. Game one of the Super Regional is set for Friday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

#BennyBaseball Bullets
• Is the first Golden Spikes Finalist in program history.
• Is the first player in program history to earn SEC Player of the Year.
• Is the first National Player of the Year in program history.
• Is the first player in school history with at least 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season.
• Is one of only two players in the country to rank in the top 15 in home runs and batting average.
• He is on the verge of becoming the third player in SEC history to finish the season leading the league in home runs and batting average.

For more information on Arkansas baseball, follow @RazorbackBSB on Twitter.