Louisville senior pitcher Kyle Funkhouser, junior outfielder Corey Ray and sophomore pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay were named to the 50-player preseason USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list released Tuesday afternoon.
Sponsored by Major League Baseball, and presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the 39th Golden Spikes Award will be presented on June 30 in Los Angeles to the top amateur baseball player in the country. The preseason watch list features 50 of the nation’s top amateur players, from high school and college baseball. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will maintain a rolling list of athletes, allowing players to play themselves into consideration for the award throughout the season.
Louisville and Florida lead all schools in representation with three players each on the list. Funkhouser is among four players named to the preseason watch list for the second consecutive year, while McKay is one of just two players on the watch list who were also named as semifinalists for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award in 2015.
Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.) ranks second in career wins with his 26-9 collegiate record, including an 8-5 mark and 104 strikeouts in 17 starts and 112.1 innings pitched in 2015. An All-America honoree during both his sophomore and junior seasons, Funkhouser has a 2.47 career ERA with the Cardinals and ranks second in career strikeouts with 281, fourth in career starts with 41 and sixth in career innings pitched at 287.1. In June, Funkhouser was chosen in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft but elected to return to Louisville for his senior season with the Cardinals.
Ray (Chicago, Ill.) earned Second Team All-America honors last season from Baseball America and the NCBWA and was a Third Team All-America selection by D1Baseball after hitting .325 with 11 home runs, 56 RBI, 15 doubles, five triples and 34 stolen bases while starting all 65 games in the outfield. A standout performer over the summer with the USA Collegiate National Team, Ray was also an All-ACC First Team honoree during his sophomore season in 2015.
McKay (Darlington, Pa.) was tabbed last season as the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year and was named national Freshman of the Year by Baseball America, D1Baseball, Collegiate Baseball newspaper and Perfect Game. He was also chosen as a First Team All-American by Baseball America, D1Baseball, the NCBWA and Perfect Game, was named as the ACC Freshman of the Year and was an All-ACC First Team selection. A member of the USA Collegiate National Team over the summer, McKay had a 9-3 record with a 1.77 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 96.2 innings and 20 appearances on the mound for the Cardinals, including 13 straight weekend starts, while also hitting .308 with four home runs, 34 RBI, 38 walks and 32 runs scored in 58 starts as a hitter.
Starting on April 11 and ending April 17, fans will be able to nominate their favorite players for the Golden Spikes Award for the first time ever prior to the reveal of Midseason Watch List onApril 20. The semifinalists list will be sent to a voting body consisting of past USA Baseball National Team coaches and press officers, members of the media that follow the amateur game closely, select professional baseball personnel, current USA Baseball staff and the 38 previous winners of the award, representing a group of more than 200 voters.
Fan voting will continue to be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2016, starting on June 1 with the naming of the Golden Spikes Award semifinalists. Amateur baseball fans across the country will be able to vote for their favorite semifinalists at GoldenSpikesAward.com. On June 13, USA Baseball will announce the finalists and voting will begin that day and last until June 25.
The winner of the 39th Golden Spikes Award will be named on Thursday, June 30, at a presentation in Los Angeles. The finalists and their families will be honored at the Rod Dedeaux Foundation Dinner that evening at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.
Second-ranked Louisville will open the 2016 season on Friday at 3 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium in the first game of a weekend series at home against SIU Edwardsville. The Cardinals and Cougars will continue their series on Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m., and admission is free throughout the weekend.