Feb. 16, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech sophomore outfielder Kel Johnson is one of 50 college baseball players nationwide named to the preseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, presented annually by USA Baseball to the top amateur player in the country.
Johnson becomes the 11th Yellow Jacket player since 2007 to earn mention on the watch list, and is one of nine current players in the Atlantic Coast Conference to be named this season. The ACC has the second-most players on the list, behind 11 from the SEC.
A Freshman All-America selection last season by Baseball America, Louisville Slugger and D1Baseball.com, Johnson led all ACC rookies with 10 home runs, while hitting .298 (.314 in ACC play) with nine doubles, a triple and 34 RBI. The freshman was also clutch, accounting for five of Tech’s game-winning RBI and scoring three game-winning runs. Johnson was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team and was an All-ACC Academic honoree.
The Palmetto, Ga., native was off to a red-hot start last year and among the ACC leaders with a .379 average (.467 in ACC play) before an ankle injury on March 21 versus North Carolina caused him to miss 13 games. He returned late in the year and later competed in the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby, belting a derby-record 17 homers in the first round and reaching the semifinals.
With Johnson back to help the offense, Tech begins its 117th anniversary season of baseball Friday versus Purdue at Russ Chandler Stadium at 4 p.m.
Tech has had one Golden Spikes Award winner in its history — Jason Varitek in 1994; and three finalists — Ty Griffin in 1988, Varitek in 1993, and Mark Teixeira in 2000.
Georgia Tech’s Golden Spikes History:
2015: Kel Johnson, OF (watch list)
2013: Buck Famer, P (watch list), Daniel Palka, OF/P (watch list), Zane Evans, C/P (semifinalist)
2011: Jed Bradley, P (watch list); Mark Pope, P (semifinalist)
2010: Derek Dietrich, SS (semifinalist); Deck McGuire (semifinalist)
2009: Deck McGuire, P (semifinalist)
2007: Matt Wieters, C (semifinalist); Danny Payne, OF (semifinalist)
2000: Mark Teixeira, 3B (finalist)
1994: Jason Varitek, C (winner)
1993: Jason Varitek, C (finalist)
1988: Ty Griffin, 2B (finalist)