FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas baseball’s Christian Franklin and Robert Moore are officially in the running for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given to the top amateur baseball player in the country.
USA Baseball announced its 55-player preseason watch list on Thursday. The list includes the nation’s top amateur players from both the high school and college level.
Arkansas has had 12 student-athletes land on the preseason watch list in the award’s history, with Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin representing the Razorbacks in last year’s edition. One Razorback has won the accolade, as Andrew Benintendi took home the 2015 honor.
Franklin enters the 2021 campaign as one of the top prospects in the nation after slashing .381/.467/.619 with three home runs, 11 RBI and a team-best 21 runs scored in 16 games during the pandemic-shortened season. He started every game in center field after manning left field as a Razorback rookie in 2019 when he hit .274 with six home runs and 34 RBI to earn SEC All-Freshman honors.
The Overland Park, Kan., native has garnered preseason first-team All-America accolades from four out of the five major college baseball publications this spring, including Baseball America, D1Baseball, NCBWA and Perfect Game. One of Arkansas’ four team captains for the upcoming season, Franklin also checked in as the second-best outfielder in D1Baseball’s preseason position power rankings.
Moore, meanwhile, started all 16 games in his debut as a Hog one year ago. The then-17-year-old freshman slashed .317/.403/.444 with two homers and 17 RBI before the season was cut short due to the pandemic. His 20 hits on the year ranked second among freshmen in the SEC, and his batting average and RBI total were third most among the league’s first-year newcomers.
The Razorback second baseman earned SEC Player of the Week and Perfect Game National Player of the Week honors last season, becoming the first freshman in program history to do so. The Leawood, Kan., native heads into the 2021 season as a preseason third-team All-American by D1Baseball and as the third-ranked second baseman in D1Baseball’s preseason position power rankings.
Both Franklin and Moore were also selected to the SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team last week.
Fan voting will once again play a part in the Golden Spikes Award in 2021. Fans can vote for their favorite players on GoldenSpikesAward.com, starting on June 8 with the naming of the Golden Spikes Award semifinalists. USA Baseball will announce the finalists for the award on June 24 and fan voting will open at GoldenSpikesAward.com concurrently, remaining open through July 2.
Franklin, Moore and the Hogs begin the 2021 slate this weekend at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, in Arlington, Texas. Inclement weather pushed the tournament’s start back one day as No. 8 Arkansas will now take on No. 3 Texas Tech at 7 p.m. CT Saturday, Feb. 20, to open the season.