Zunino named semifinalist for Golden Spikes Award

University of Florida sophomore catcher Mike Zunino was named as one of 30 semifinalists for the 2011 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award (GSA) on Tuesday.

Chosen as the SEC Player of the Year last week, Zunino is a member of the 2011 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and is also a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award and the Dick Howser Trophy.

The first-team All-SEC selection leads the top-ranked Gators and is among the league leaders in batting average (.367), total bases (145), hits (81), runs (63), RBI (59), doubles (19), homers (15), slugging percentage (.656) and on-base percentage (.439). He has registered a .996 fielding percentage, with two errors in 486 chances, and has thrown out almost a third of the runners who have attempted to steal on him.

Zunino batted .422 in conference games, second behind LSU’s Mikie Mahtook (.425), and had 36 runs, 33 RBI, 14 doubles and eight homers in the 30 league outings. He became the first Florida catcher to earn first-team All-SEC since Mario Linares in 1991 and was a two-time SEC Player of the Week recipient.

Fans can follow online at GoldenSpikesAward.com as the list of 30 players is narrowed to three finalists on Monday, June 6.

Among conferences, the SEC leads with five players, while the ACC has four and the Pac-10 and Big East each have three. Juniors are tops with 22 semifinalists and they are joined by four sophomores and three seniors. Daniel Alrdich from the College of Charleston is the only freshman (RS) on the list.

“USA Baseball congratulates each of the 30 student-athletes and their respective baseball programs,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “With the increased exposure we are bringing to the Golden Spikes Award through the MLB Network this year, there is added excitement surrounding the voting process and live presentation. We wish all of the semifinalists the best of luck.”

Florida (45-16) opens the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 4 p.m. by hosting fourth-seeded Manhattan (34-17) in the second game of the double-elimination Gainesville Regional to be held at McKethan Stadium. Second-seeded Miami (Fla.) (36-21) meets third-seeded Jacksonville (36-22) at noon.