ANAHEIM -- When Bryce Harper made the decision to leave high school early and head to junior college instead of remaining for his junior year, more than one eyebrow was raised. Going on to have one of the better offensive seasons in collegiate history and being selected No. 1 overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft made the decision seem like a good one.
On Tuesday came the icing on the cake when the 17-year-old Harper was named the 2010 Golden Spikes Award winner. Since 1978, USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the Golden Spikes Award. The award is sponsored by Major League Baseball and presented each year to the player who best exhibits exceptional on-field ability and exemplary sportsmanship.
Catching as well as playing third and the outfield for the College of Southern Nevada, Harper hit .443 over 66 games. In 228 total at-bats, Harper hit 31 home runs, drove in 98 runs, slugged .987 and finished with a .526 on-base percentage. He was named the 2010 SWAC Player of the Year as he helped CSN become Region XVIII and Western District Champions before falling in the Junior College World Series.
These accomplishments are what made him the top choice -- receiving 28 votes -- above the other four GSA finalists: Central Florida outfielder Chris Duffy with five votes, Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal with 24 votes, Ole Miss lefty Drew Pomeranz with 27 votes and Florida Gulf Coast University left-hander Chris Sale, who received 18 votes. Harper, Duffy and Pomeranz were on hand at the All-Star FanFest presentation of the award.
Golden No. 1 picks
A list of players who won the Golden Spikes Award and were selected No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft.
MLB Draft Club
Cal State Fullerton
San Diego State
College of Southern Nevada
Pomeranz was the first-round selection of the Cleveland Indians (No. 5 overall) and Sale has already signed with the Chicago White Sox, who took him No. 13 overall. He has thrown three hitless innings in limited action with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. Grandal, the Miami catcher, went one spot ahead of Sale, at No. 12 to the Cincinnati Reds, but has not yet signed. Duffy, the UCF senior, signed with the Phillies after going in the 26th round and has hit .241 with a homer and three RBIs in 15 Gulf Coast League games.
Harper becomes just the second player from a non-division I school to win the award, joining Alex Fernandez as the only junior college products to win. Fernandez was the Golden Spikes recipient out of Miami Dade Community College in 1990. Harper was just one of four players to be selected as a Golden Spikes finalist from anything but a D-I program (Fernandez, Michael Tucker out of Longwood, a Division III school, in 1992 and Alex Rodriguez out of Westminster Christian High School in 1993).
For the second straight year, the Washington Nationals have the rights to negotiate with the Golden Spikes Award winner. Last year, Stephen Strasburg was the GSA recipient and the Nats signed him right at the deadline. Most expect negotiations between Washington and Harper, who like Strasburg is advised by Scott Boras, to go down to the wire.
Harper's selection marks the second year in a row, and third in the last four that the GSA winner was also taken No. 1 overall in the June Draft. Before Strasburg, All-Star starter David Price won the award in 2007 after being taken with the top pick by the Tampa Bay Rays. There now have been seven No. 1 picks to win the Golden Spikes Award.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.