'He's the best player in college baseball': Texas reacts to Ivan Melendez's Golden Spikes win

·4 min read

Ivan Melendez has added one more shiny object to his trophy case.

On Friday evening, Melendez was named the Golden Spikes Award winner. The Texas first baseman was honored for a season in which he hit .387 and led the nation with his 32 home runs and 94 RBIs.

A redshirt junior, Melendez topped a field of finalists that included Oregon State pitcher Cooper Hjerpe and Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada. The Golden Spikes Award is annually presented by USA Baseball to the top amateur baseball player in the country.

Not that Melendez needed any more affirmation.

He had already been named the national player of the year by D1Baseball, Perfect Game/Rawlings and Collegiate Baseball. He secured Big 12 Player of the Year honors and earned consensus All-American accolades. Last week, Melendez won the Dick Howser Trophy.

But the Golden Spikes Award was special. Before Friday, no Longhorn had ever won that award. The first Golden Spikes Award was given out in 1978, and Texas had previously had a player earn finalist status a dozen times.

"It hasn't hit me yet," Melendez said. "I think in a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Who knows? Maybe a year or two, it'll hit me a little bit harder. But it's a nice trophy, pretty cool to have."

More: As Ivan Melendez nears Texas history, Kyle Russell 'looking forward to tossing the baton'

On Friday, Melendez was crowned during a presentation that was broadcast on ESPN. Eight Texas teammates who hadn't yet left Austin for the offseason and head coach David Pierce gathered with Melendez's family inside of the team complex to watch the milestone moment.

A half-dozen Longhorns — some of whom were wearing Melendez-themed clothing — spoke to the American-Statesman about why Melendez was the deserving winner of the Golden Spikes Award.

Ivan Melendez hit .387 and led the nation with 32 home runs and 94 RBIs.
Ivan Melendez hit .387 and led the nation with 32 home runs and 94 RBIs.

Texas pitcher Tristan Stevens

"I think it's the obvious decision. I'm pretty sure he's won every hitting award available this year. He's the record holder for the BBCOR era in home runs. Not only that, how important he was to this team alone. It wasn't just his numbers, but it's when he did deliver, it seemed to always be in a big moment, in a clutch moment."

Texas pitcher Pete Hansen

"It just goes back to the work he's put in all year. That's something we've prided ourselves on this year was just the work we put in. He's a guy that we knew, Ivan just had phenomenal talent and we knew that he was due for a big year. Kind of saw a little glimpse of it last year, but we always knew that the ball just came off his bat different. He's just an exciting guy to watch play. He deserves an award like this. He did it all season long. So yeah, I don't think there's anyone more deserving in the country for him just as a guy but also as a ballplayer."

Texas third baseman Skyler Messinger

"He's the best player in the country, and it's not even close. You talk about being just a complete player in every facet of the game. This guy does it all. Not just hitting for homers, which everyone talks about, but he can do it all at the plate. Incredibly hard worker, great teammate, great competitor. He does it the right way.

"We're just so happy to be his teammate and support him. Nobody more deserving than him, so we're pumped. We think he definitely deserves it, for sure."

From left, Murphy Stehly, Ivan Melendez and Dylan Campbell celebrate a home run by Melendez against Air Force in the NCAA Austin Regional on June 5.
From left, Murphy Stehly, Ivan Melendez and Dylan Campbell celebrate a home run by Melendez against Air Force in the NCAA Austin Regional on June 5.

Texas pitcher Lucas Gordon

"He's the best player in college baseball. The way I put it, he's a major league hitter hitting in college baseball."

Texas outfielder Dylan Campbell

"He's definitely the hardest worker on this team. If you see him walk in the cage, you would never think that he had as many home runs and as high of a batting average as he did. He came to the field every day as the same guy, no matter if he was having success or struggling. He just kept putting in the work. He thought there was always room for improvement, no matter how many home runs and hits he had."

Texas pitcher Jared Southard

"Ivan's one of the best players I've ever played with, been around. Really good dude, good friend, good teammate. He's a most deserving guy to get this award. I think his play on the field showed that, but people don't know how good of a person off the field he is. He's there for all of us and truly cares about his family and his friends and his teammates and makes us all feel like we're right there with him. It's his. He's the Golden Spikes winner."

"It hasn't hit me yet," Ivan Melendez said of the Golden Spikes Award. "I think in a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Who knows? Maybe a year or two, it'll hit me a little bit harder. But it's a nice trophy, pretty cool to have."
"It hasn't hit me yet," Ivan Melendez said of the Golden Spikes Award. "I think in a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Who knows? Maybe a year or two, it'll hit me a little bit harder. But it's a nice trophy, pretty cool to have."

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas baseball teammates react to Ivan Melendez's Golden Spikes Award