Junior catcher Mike Zunino became the first Florida player to win the Dick Howser Trophy, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player.
Zunino is a 2011 and 2012 All-American as well as the 2011 SEC player of the year and first-team catcher both years. He has helped lead the Gators to three consecutive World Series berths.
This season, he has started 64 games, with team highs of 28 doubles, 19 homers and 64 RBIs. The Cape Coral native is hitting .322 (just behind Daniel Pigott's .323), slugging .678 and has thrown out about a third of the runners who have attempted to steal. On June 4, Zunino became the highest draft choice in school history, No. 3 to the Mariners.
"Mike Zunino epitomizes the true qualities of Dick Howser: ability, leadership, character and courage," said Howser Trophy chair David Feaster of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, who presented the award Friday to Zunino prior to the CWS in Omaha, Neb., where the Gators open play today. "He has taken Florida to new heights in the past two years as well as being a tremendous team leader and go-to student-athlete in all areas."
The Dick Howser Trophy is given in memory of the former Florida State All-America shortstop, major-league player and major-league manager who died of brain cancer in 1987.
Zunino also is a finalist for the Golden Spikes, the player of the year award given by USA Baseball. That winner will be announced July 6.