LEXINGTON — Kentucky junior left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed has been named one of three finalists for the 2014 Golden Spikes Award presented annually to the top amateur baseball player in the U.S. Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto and LSU right-hander Aaron Nola are the other two finalists announced by USA Baseball on Tuesday afternoon.
Already honored as the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and as a first-team All-American, Reed led the nation in homers (23), slugging (.735) and OPS (1.211), while ranking as Southeastern Conference leader, and fourth in the nation, in pitching victories (12). A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed finished with a 2.09 ERA in 16 starts, working 112 innings, allowing 98 hits and 29 walks, striking out 71.
Conforto hit .345 with a .547 slugging percentage and .504 on-base percentage. He was Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season.
Nola was selected Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season, going 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and .172 opponents’ batting average. He struck out 134 in 116 1-3 innings.
The winner will be announced by the U.S. Baseball Federation on July 17.
Reed is seeking to become the third SEC player to be named a consensus national player of the year, joining Dave Magadan (1983) and David Price (2007). There are five major national player of the year awards in 2014: Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Golden Spikes Award, the Baseball America College Player of the Year, the American Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year and the Dick Howser Trophy.
Reed helped lead UK to its second NCAA Tournament berth in the last three years in 2014, with UK finishing with the sixth-most wins in program history. UK finished its campaign as the runner-up in the NCAA Louisville Regional, with its tourney finish marking tied for the best in UK history, also done in 1988, 2006, 2008 and 2012.
All three finalists are eligible for Major League Baseball’s amateur draft that starts Thursday and were on teams eliminated from the NCAA tournament in the regionals.