DURHAM, N.C. — University of Oklahoma junior Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) was named to the initial Golden Spikes Award Watch list as announced by USA Baseball on Friday afternoon. He is one of six representatives from the Big 12 on the 55-player list. Walker is the first Sooner to appear on the watch list since Sheldon Neuse and Alec Hansen in 2016.
The award has been presented annually for the last 40 years to the top amateur player in the country and is sponsored by Major League Baseball. Neuse was a Golden Spikes semifinalist in 2016 after OU was previously represented by a pair of semifinalists with Jonathan Gray and Matt Oberste in 2013. The midseason watch list will come out on April 10 and finalists will be named on June 6.
Walker, an All-Big 12 and All-Region First Team honoree a year ago, enters 2018 as a preseason All-American from all major media outlets. He earned second team selection by Baseball America and D1Baseball.com, while being named third team by Collegiate Baseball News and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
A left-handed bat, Walker hit .333 and slugged .541 with 16 doubles, eight home runs and three triples in 2017. He scored 49 runs and drove in 51; becoming the first player at OU with 50 or more in a season since Oberste’s 2013 All-America year. Over the summer, Walker split his time between the Team USA Collegiate National Team and the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League. As a part of Team USA, he hit .333 and slugged .514 in 20 games. Walker was named MVP of the team’s two series wins over Chinese Taipei and Cuba.
Through two seasons at OU, Walker is a career .313 hitter with 135 hits, 83 RBI, 33 doubles and 11 home runs. Previously, he was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and All-Big 12 Freshman Team pick in 2016.