And then there were four.
Maria Carrillo graduate and Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn is one of four finalists for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, given to the best amateur player in the nation.
Casa Grande grad Spencer Torkelson, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year for Arizona State University after winning the NCAA home run title with 25, was the only freshman on the semifinalist list but did not make the cut.
Vaughn, a sophomore who was named Pac-12 Player of the Year after being named Freshman of the Year last season, is in the running with Auburn’s Casey Mize, Texas’ Kody Clemens, Florida’s Brady Singer. The Detroit Tigers made right-handed pitcher Mize the first overall pick in the Major League Draft Monday and Clemens and Singer were also first-round selections by the Tigers and the Kansas City Royals, respectively. Vaughn, who as a sophomore is unavailable for the draft, is the only player among the four who plays for a squad that did not make the NCAA postseason tournament.
But Vaughn’s numbers clearly caught voters’ attention. He led the Pac-12 in batting average with .402, also topped the conference slugging percentage list at .819, and was first in on-base percentage at .531, and total bases (163). He was second in homers at 23 to Torkelson’s 25 and tied for second with Torkelson and three others for runs scored at 59. Vaughn tied for fourth in hits (80) and was third in RBI at 63.
Vaughn made the Baseball America first team. Torkelson was named to the second team.
Neck-and-neck all season long in the homer hunt, neither Vaughn nor Torkelson hit one out in the three-game series between Cal and ASU that ended both teams’ seasons. ASU, like Cal, failed to make the postseason. Both Vaughn and Torkelson are slated to represent Team USA on the collegiate squad this summer.
The Golden Spikes Award will be announced at a nationally televised ceremony in Los Angeles on June 28.
You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or email@example.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”