Things didn’t end as planned for J.B Bukauskas and the UNC baseball team after they went out in regionals to Davidson. However since then, things have gone much better for the Tar Heel starting pitcher.
Bukauskas is the seventh player in UNC history to be named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given to the best player in amateur baseball. The most recent Carolina finalist was Colin Moran in 2013. Before him, the likes of Andrew Miller, Dustin Ackley, and B.J. Surhoff received nominations. Despite the seven finalists, no Tar Heel has come home with the award since it came into existence in 1978.
UNC’s Friday starter will face some stiff competition, however. The other three finalists include two other ACC players, including Louisville’s Brendan McKay.
Bukauskas won the ACC Pitcher of the Year, while McKay came away with the conference’s Player of the Year title. McKay was impressively named to the all-conference team as both a hitter and a pitcher after a dominant season on the mound and at the plate.
The other ACC representative was Virginia’s Adam Haseley. The Cavaliers’ outfielder led the conference in a number of categories at the plate. He also had some success on the mound as a productive weekend starter for Virginia.
The fourth finalist was Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker, who won SEC Player of the Year. All four finalists were selected in the first round of Monday’s draft.
If Bukauskas does manage to come away with the award, he would join an impressive list of past winners. Current major leaguers Buster Posey, Bryce Harper, and Kris Bryant are all in the midst of potential future Hall of Fame careers.
The Golden Spikes award does allot one vote vote to the winner of a popular fan vote. Given that it’s a 200+ person voting panel, one fan vote might not make a huge difference in the final result. However, if you do want to try and help Bukasukas out, you can vote on the award’s official website.
The winner of the 2017 Golden Spikes Award will not be revealed until Thursday June 29th. The recipient will be presented with the trophy live on an episode of ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Despite what happened in the NCAA Tournament, Bukasukas had a dominant season for the Tar Heels. If he does walk away with the trophy, it will be a historic accomplishment for UNC baseball and an excellent way to honor his excellent season.