Mark Prior Wins 2001 Rotary Smith Award
June 28, 2001
HOUSTON -- USC pitcher Mark Prior was named the winner of the 14th Rotary Smith Award as the nation's top college baseball player at a gala dinner in Houston, Texas on Thursday night.
The 6-5 junior led the nation with 202 strikeouts and walked just 18batters in 138.2 innings while leading the Trojans (45-19) to their 21st appearance at the College World Series. He is the first Trojan to win the award and the first player fromthe Pac-10 to be honored since Mike Kelly of Arizona State took home theaward in 1990. USC is the 14th different school to produce a winner in the14-year history of the event.
He was selected in a national vote of college sports informationpersonnel, past winners of the award and their coaches over fellow finalists Chris Burke of Tennessee and John VanBenschoten of Kent State.
The Smith Award is the sixth national player of the year award that Prior has received this season. He was also named as the top player in the nation by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, The Sporting News, the American Baseball Coaches' Association and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (Dick Howser Trophy).
The first college player taken in the Major League Draft (#2 pick overallby the Chicago Cubs), Prior finished the season 15-1 with a 1.69 ERA. Hestruck out 10 or more hitters in a game 13 times, including a 13-strikeouteffort against Georgia in the College World Series. His 202 strikeouts seta single-season record for the Trojans. He held opponents to a .201 battingaverage, thanks in part to a pair of two-hitters and walked just 18 allseason. He also allowed only six home runs.
Andy Benes (1988) of Evansville (St. Louis Cardinals), Bobby Jones(1991)of Fresno State (San Diego Padres), Darren Dreifort (1993) of WichitaState (Los Angeles Dodgers), Jason Varitek (1994) of Georgia Tech (BostonRed Sox), Mark Kotsay Kris Benson (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Tim Hudson (1997)of Auburn (Oakland Athletics).