Texas pitcher Lebarron Johnson Jr. named to Golden Spikes Award watch list


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Add another honor to LeBarron Johnson Jr.’s resume.

The Longhorns’ right-handed pitcher was named to the 55-player season-opening watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, awarded annually by USA Baseball to the most outstanding amateur baseball player. The organization announced the initial watch list Friday.

Johnson was named the Big 12 Conference’s preseason pitcher of the year after putting together a tremendous 2023 campaign. He worked his way into the starting rotation with a mid-90s fastball and wipe-out slider, striking out 98 batters in 86.2 innings pitched with a 2.91 ERA. He appeared in 20 games with 13 starts and allowed just five home runs in 363 batters faced. For his career at Texas over two seasons, Johnson allows opponents to hit .225 against him.

Johnson showed his toughness and durability during a complete-game performance against the Miami Hurricanes in the NCAA regional tournament last season. He allowed one run with eight strikeouts in 129 pitches in a 4-1 win to get the Longhorns to the regional championship game.

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The award’s watch list will be paired down in the middle of the season April 4 with semifinalists being announced along with fan voting for the award May 20. Finalists will be announced June 5 with voting through June 21, then the award will be handed out June 23.

Texas first baseman Ivan Melendez slugged his way to the Golden Spikes Award in 2022.

Johnson is one of eight Big 12 players on the watch list. Former Longhorn Gavin Kash, an infielder for Texas Tech, is also on the watch list.