FULLERTON, Calif. – Matt Chapman, J.D. Davis, Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza were each named to the 2014 preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List announced by USA Baseball on Friday as the organization marked its first step toward identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country.
Sponsored by Major League Baseball, the Golden Spikes Award will be presented in 2014 for the 37th time.
Cal State Fullerton's four representatives are tied with reigning PAC-12 champions Oregon State for the most nominations for any school. They also make up half of the Big West Conference's eight representatives on the list.
Three Titans have won the Golden Spikes Award, including Tim Wallach in 1979, the second year the award was handed out. Phil Nevin took home the honor in 1992 and Mark Kotsay won the award in 1995.
After a stellar freshman campaign on the mound in 2013, Eshelman makes his first appearance on the initial Golden Spikes Watch List but he is no stranger to the award as he was named to the Golden Spikes midseason watch list and was a semifinalist for the award last season. Eshelman earned seven All-American nods and three freshman pitcher of the year awards in 2013.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander set a new NCAA record in 2013 with a 0.23 walks-per-nine innings mark. He also set a new Titans record with a 27.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio after fanning 83 batters while issuing just three free passes. His 115.2 innings pitched and 1.48 ERA also set new Titans freshman records while his ERA also ranks second in Cal State Fullerton all-time single-season history. In 2014, Eshelman has already piled up the accolades as he's received preseason All-American First Team selections from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Collegiate Baseball.
As for Garza, he earns his first appearance on the Golden Spikes Watch List after an outstanding rookie season of his own. The Ontario, Calif. native also earned seven All-American nods in 2013 and was named the Big West Conference's Pitcher of the Year. Garza finished 2013 with a perfect 12-0 record, tying the Fullerton record for most wins by a freshman and becoming just the fourth Titans pitcher to record at least 12 wins without a defeat, the first since Matt Sorenson in 1999. Garza finished the year with a 2.03 ERA and struck out a team-high 95 batters. In the preseason, Garza has received first team selections to the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball All-America teams and a third-team selection in Baseball America's Preseason All-American team.
Junior infielder Matt Chapman had a stellar sophomore year for the Titans, earning a 2013 Big West Second All-Conference Team selection after hitting .285 with five home runs and putting up a .457 slugging percentage. During the summer, Chapman became the 21st Titan to play for the U.S.A. Collegiate National Team. He was named a preseason Second-Team All-American by Baseball America, which also tabbed him the No. 14 junior in the nation and top prospect from the BWC for the 2014 MLB Draft.
J.D. Davis rounds out the list of Titans on the 2014 Golden Spikes Watch List. In 2013, Davis earned a Big West First Team All-Conference selection after hitting .318 with 11 doubles and 50 RBIs. He launched four home runs and slugged .436 to go along with a .407 on-base percentage. On the mound, Davis was a perfect 4-for-4 in save opportunities and whiffed 17 batters in 23 innings pitched. He finished the season 1-2 with a 2.74 ERA. During the preseason, Davis was named a Second-Team All-American by Baseball America, which also pegged him as the No. 20 junior in the nation and the No. 3 prospect from the BWC for the 2014 MLB Draft.
The Titans open the 2014 season Friday night at Goodwin field when they host Washington State at 7 p.m. It will be the first of a three-game set.
For ticket information, please check out the ticket link at fullertontitans.com, or call the Athletic Ticket office at (657) 278-CSUF.
More on the Golden Spikes Watch List
The watch list features 60 of the nation's top amateur players, and will be a "rolling" list until May 27 -- when the Golden Spikes Award semifinalists are announced -- ensuring that athletes can play themselves into consideration for the award throughout the collegiate and high school seasons.
On April 10, USA Baseball will release its 50-man midseason watch list, shaped by USA Baseball staff and its committee of amateur baseball experts and media. On May 27, USA Baseball will announce the semifinalists for the 2014 Golden Spikes Award. 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 36 previous winners of the award, representing a group of more than 200 voters.
Fan voting will once again be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2014. Tuesday, May 27, marks the day when amateur baseball fans across the country will be able to vote for their favorite semifinalists at GoldenSpikesAward.com. As part of this selection process, all voters will be asked to choose three players from the list. On Tuesday, June 3, USA Baseball will announce the finalists, and voting will once again commence that same day.
Important 2014 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award dates include:
- Friday, Feb. 14: 60-man preseason watch list released, shaped by USA Baseball officials and advisors
- Thursday, April 10: 50-man midseason watch list released, shaped by USA Baseball officials and advisors
- Thursday, May 8: 30-man watch list, shaped by USA Baseball officials and advisors
- Tuesday, May 27: Semifinalists announced, selected by USA Baseball officials; semifinalist voting begins; voters to select three
- Friday, May 30: Deadline to vote for finalists, 5 p.m. ET
- Tuesday, June 3: Finalists announced; finalist voting begins; voters to select one
- Friday, June 13: Deadline to vote for winner, 5 p.m. ET
- Thursday, July 17: Golden Spikes Award presentation