Giants pick nabs Golden Spikes Award

Giants pick nabs Golden Spikes Award

NEW YORK -- Buster Posey of Florida State University was selected as the winner of the 2008 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, in an announcement made Wednesday at the Sports Museum of America in New York.

In conjunction with the live presentation made in Lower Manhattan, an awards show highlighting the five finalists for the Golden Spikes award was aired simultaneously on MLB.com, usabaseball.com and goldenspikesaward.com.

The presentation at the Sports Museum of America also featured a video tribute to Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig, who was honored with the USA Baseball Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring his contributions to the sport, including the advent of Interleague Play and the Wild Card playoff format, which has helped take MLB into a new and exciting era.

2008 marks the 31st consecutive year that the Golden Spikes Award has been presented to the nation's premier amateur baseball player.

"This is an award that you grow up hearing about all the time," Posey said. "You get to see all of the great ballplayers that have won it, and with the four finalists that were here, they've all had outstanding seasons."

Gordon Beckham, SS, Georgia (Atlanta, Ga.); Aaron Crow, RHP, Missouri (Wakarusa, Kan.); Brian Matusz, LHP, San Diego (Phoenix, Ariz.); and Brett Wallace, 3B, Arizona State (Sonoma, Calif.) were the other finalists. All were invited to New York to enjoy a closer look at the All-Star Game festivities.

"Each year it becomes increasingly more difficult for our selection committee to select just one athlete for the Golden Spikes Award, and 2008 was no different," said USA Baseball executive director and CEO Paul Seiler, who presented the award to Posey at the Sports Museum of America.

"Buster Posey, however, separated himself from the other candidates with an exceptional year both at and behind the plate and as a leader of his Florida State ballclub. We are honored to present him with the 2008 trophy."

Posey, a 21-year-old from Leesburg, Ga., was the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and led the NCAA in batting average (.472), on base percentage (.572) and slugging (.908). Originally a shortstop, Posey is making a transition to catching and has been compared favorably to Major League veteran Brad Ausmus.

"Having the opportunity to play at Florida State has been very important, and having the opportunity to play in the Cape [Cod League] for two years," Posey said. "The more baseball I've played, the more I felt like I've grown, not only physically but mentally. I just have a better understanding of the game the more I play."

Also an accomplished pitcher, the junior led Florida State in saves with six and did not give up an earned run in eight appearances. Posey was named the ESPN Academic All-American of the Year, and he was a member of the 2004 USA Baseball 18U National Team.

The Florida State catcher was also the recipient of Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and Rivals.com Player of the Year honors, and the 2008 Dick Howser Trophy. He also won the 2008 Johnny Bench Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate catcher.

The San Francisco Giants selected Posey with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He said that he is looking forward to beginning his professional career.

"I feel like I'm starting at the same level as every other guy, every other 21-year-old that's going into their professional career," Posey said. "It's an unbelievable honor. It's humbling. I'm looking forward to it. It's your dream as a kid and I'm excited about it."

Posey's selection marks the second time in the GSA's 31-year history that a catcher has received the award. Jason Varitek (Georgia Tech) was the recipient of the GSA in 1994. He expressed gratitude to his family for their support throughout his development.

"I have three younger siblings, and there's no telling how many miles they've traveled with basketball, football and baseball," Posey said. "It's a culmination. My family taught me to keep a level head and realize that you're never bigger than the game. You just have a respect for the game and work as hard as you possibly can."

Past winners of the Golden Spikes award include current Major League players Tim Lincecum ('06), Alex Gordon ('05), Jered Weaver ('04), Rickie Weeks ('03), Khalil Greene ('02), Jason Jennings ('00), Pat Burrell ('98), J.D. Drew ('97), Mark Kotsay ('95), and Jason Varitek ('94).

Former Major League stars who have captured the award include Robin Ventura ('88), Jim Abbott ('87), Will Clark ('85), Dave Magadan ('83), Terry Francona ('80) and Tim Wallach ('79).

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.