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Monday, May 21, 2012
Eye on POY: Tennessee baseball

By Ben Rohrbach

The window on the Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Jonathan King
Senior left-handed pitcher/outfielder, Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

2012 Team record: 30-10 (Class AAA)
2012 Team standing: Class AAA first round vs. Arlington (Tenn.) on Tuesday

2012 W-L-S record:: 8-1-1
2012 ERA: 0.76
2012 Strikeouts: 68

2012 Batting average: .405
2012 RBI: 33
2012 Runs: 30
NOTE: Statistics updated through 37 games.

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Georgia Tech

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Struck out 1.48 batters, allowed 0.11 earned runs and issued 0.74 baserunners per inning. Belted an extra-base hit once every 4.8 at-bats. Top-500 ranked prospect in Class of 2012 as rated by Perfect Game USA (No. 5 in Tenn.). 2012 Daily News Journal All Sports Awards Pitcher of the Year. 2012 District Player of the Year. 2012 Preseason Honorable Mention All-Region selection as named by Perfect Game USA. 2011 East Coast Showcase participant.

A.J. Simcox
Senior shortstop/right-handed pitcher, Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.)

2012 Team record: 34-7 (Class AAA)
2012 Team standing: Class AAA first round vs. Mt. Juliet (Tenn.) on Tuesday

2012 Batting average: .469
2012 RBI: 40
2012 Runs: 51

2012 W-L-S record: 1-0-3
2012 ERA: 0.00
2012 Strikeouts: 68
NOTE: Statistics updated through 38 games.

Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: University of Tennessee

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: His 40 RBI and 51 runs scored generated 2.2 runs per game. No. 127 ranked prospect in Class of 2012 as rated by Perfect Game USA (No. 1 in Tenn.). 2012 Preseason First Team All-State selection as named by ESPNHS. 2012 Preseason First Team All-Region selection as named by Perfect Game USA. 2011 East Coast Showcase participant. 2011 USA Baseball Tournament of Stars invitee. 2011 Perfect Game USA World Wood Bat Association 17U and 18U National Championships pool play participant. 2011 First Team All-State selection as named by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. 2011 Perfect Game USA Preseason Underclassmen Honorable Mention All-American.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.

Brady Bramlett: Senior right-handed pitcher, Arlington (Tenn.)
Dalton Dulin: Junior infielder, Memphis University School (Memphis, Tenn.)
Jordan Sheffield: Junior right-handed pitcher, Tullahoma (Tenn.)
John Marc Shelly: Senior right-handed pitcher/infielder, St. George’s (Collierville, Tenn.)
Hayden Stone: Junior right-handed pitcher, Columbia Central (Columbia, Tenn.)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.