Appel, Zunino among Golden Spikes finalists

Appel, Zunino among Golden Spikes finalists

A pair of top 10 First-Year Player Draft picks and a dominant freshman left-hander are the three finalists for the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, the most prestigious award in amateur baseball.

Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, Florida catcher Mike Zunino and North Carolina State southpaw Carlos Rodon received the most votes among the 30 semifinalists last week, and the winner will be announced July 6 on MLB Network, MLB.com and GoldenSpikesAward.com.

"Congratulations to the three finalists, Mark Appel, Carlos Rodon and Mike Zunino, and each of their respective college baseball programs," USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler said. "This is an exciting time of year with the MLB Draft and postseason accolades, but we know they are most proud of their team's current on-field success. We wish them luck with not only the award, but in their quest for Omaha as well."

Appel was piked No. 8 overall by the Pirates in the Draft. Appel, a junior, will take a 10-1 record, 2.27 ERA, 127 strikeouts and 26 walks in 119 innings pitched into Stanford's NCAA tournament Super Regional against Florida State this weekend.

Appel is the Pac-12 leader in strikeouts, a Pac-12 all-conference selection and a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger. He is the first GSA finalist from Stanford since Carlos Quentin in 2003.

Taken No. 3 overall by the Mariners on Monday, Zunino heads into Super Regional play with a .316 batting average, 18 homers and 60 RBIs for the Gators. The junior backstop, a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, was voted to the NCAA Gainesville Regional all-tournament team for the third straight year.

He has already received first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors and a first-team All-American nod by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger. Zunino is the first GSA finalist from Florida since Matt LaPorta in 2007.

Rodon, the first freshman finalist since Bryce Harper in 2010 and the only one on the list of 30 semifinalists, is 9-0 on the season with a 1.61 ERA, 132 strikeouts and 42 walks in 111 2/3 innings pitched for the Wolfpack. He leads N.C. State into a Super Regional matchup with Zunino's Florida team, and he is scheduled to join the 2012 USA Baseball Collegiate National Tour when his collegiate season is over.

Rodon was named First-Team All-ACC, ACC freshman of the year, ACC pitcher of the year and a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger. He is the Wolfpack's first GSA finalist.

The GSA voting committee that narrowed down the list of semifinalists will decide the winner, with voting beginning Tuesday. Fans can also vote online at GoldenSpikesAward.com. Voting ends at 5 p.m. ET on June 15.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.