Brett Jackson and Blake Smith Selected to Golden Spikes Award Watch List
Feb. 17, 2009
DURHAM, N.C. - The preseason accolades keep on coming in for University of California junior center fielder Brett Jackson and junior outfielder/first baseman/pitcher Blake Smith as the two Golden Bears are among the 50 top college players selected to USA Baseball's 2009 Preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List, it was announced Tuesday, Feb. 17. Sponsored by Major League Baseball, the Golden Spikes Award is presented to the top player in college baseball. On Monday, Jackson was named a first-team preseason All-American by Baseball America, while Smith was tabbed a second-team preseason All-America utility player by the national baseball publication.
The Pac-10 and the SEC lead the country with eight players each on the Golden Spikes watch list. On May 26, USA Baseball will narrow the watch list to 30 names. Then on June 2, USA Baseball will announce the five finalists. The 2009 Golden Spikes Award will be presented nationally July 15 on an award show live from St. Louis in conjunction with the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Weekend.
Jackson (6-2, 210 pounds) is Cal's first, first-team preseason All-American since outfielder Brennan Boesch in 2006. Earlier, he was a preseason All-Pac-10 selection by Rivals.com and named the nation's 13th best player by The College Baseball Blog. An outstanding left-handed hitting outfielder who was honorable mention All-Pac-10 last season, Jackson was selected the eighth-best prospect out of the Cape Cod League by Baseball America, hitting .238 with six doubles, four home runs, 14 RBI and eight stolen bases this past summer for the Cotuit Kettleers.
Last spring, Jackson batted .307 (62-for-202, .302 versus the Pac-10) with seven doubles, four triples (fourth in the Pac-10), four home runs and 40 RBI for the Golden Bears. He led the team with 12 stolen bases (eighth in the Pac-10) and hit his first career grand slam May 2 versus Arizona. Jackson finished the year batting .333 (23-for-69) with runners in scoring position. He was a 2008 honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic selection as well, majoring in art.
Junior left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Smith (6-2, 220 pounds) is a second-team preseason All-American utility player in both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He was named the nation's 16th best player, according to The College Baseball Blog, and was selected to the 2009 Wallace Award Watch List as a national player of the year candidate. Additionally, Smith was named the seventh best prospect from Team USA by Baseball America in early September.
Smith was instrumental in the USA Baseball National (Collegiate) Team capturing the gold medal at the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic this past summer as the USA squad topped Japan, 1-0 in 12 innings for the title on July 27. He not only helped pace Team USA to an undefeated 24-0 record, he was the team's leading hitter during the national team's summer tour with a .327 average. Smith finished the summer 18-for-55 (.327) overall with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games. He was also one of the national team's top relievers, sporting a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and two saves, striking out 11 batters with only three hits and three walks in 9.0 innings. Another highlight for Smith was going 1-for-3 with a home run versus the Cuban squad that competed in the Beijing Olympics.
Last spring, Smith batted .296 with 11 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs and 43 RBI for Cal. On the mound, he was 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA and had 36 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. Smith also threw two runners out at the plate from right field during the year and hit a two-run homer against Long Beach State at the NCAA Regional in Long Beach.
The Bears, who qualified for an NCAA Regional last year with 33-21-2 overall mark and 12-12 record in the Pac-10, begin their '09 season with two home games at Evans Diamond versus UC Riverside on Friday, Feb. 20 at 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. Cal then hosts Vanderbilt on Sunday, Feb. 22 and Monday, Fed. 23. Both games against the Commodores are slated for 1 p.m.