LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky infielder Ryan Wilkes has been tabbed the best defensive second baseman in college baseball during the 2008 season, receiving the Rawlings Gold Glove, the American Baseball Coaches Association announced.
Wilkes, a senior from Harrison, Tenn., had a perfect season while functioning as Kentucky’s everyday second baseman during the 2008 season. While helping lead Kentucky to a final No. 23 national ranking and an appearance in the Ann Arbor Regional Championship game, Wilkes was perfect in the field, finishing the year with a 1.000 fielding percentage in 287 chances. Wilkes, a three-year starter at shortstop before transitioning to second base as a senior, ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference in assists (164) and sixth in fielding double plays (42).
One of the more statistically impressive players to ever come through Lexington, Wilkes capped off his four-year career as a first-team coaches All-SEC selection in 2008, ranking fourth in the SEC in average (.374) and 11th in on-base percentage (.442), adding 11 doubles, nine home runs and 36 RBI. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound switch hitter, ended his career among the Kentucky career leaders in games played (215; 3rd), games started (208; 3rd), at bats (723; 7th), walks (119; 3rd), sac flies (19; 1st) and sac bunts (40; 1st). In 57 games his senior year, Wilkes reached base safely in 50 contests.
After hitting .266 combined in his first two seasons as an everyday starter, Wilkes exploded offensively as a junior, hitting .324 with 13 doubles, two home runs and 41 RBI. With five home runs combined in his first three years, Wilkes added some pop in his bat as a senior, belting nine roundtrippers, including home runs in all three games of a SEC-opening sweep over Alabama.
Wilkes had the game of his career late in the 2008 season, facing a scrappy Wright State team in a mid-week battle with post-season implications on the line. Wilkes hit 5-for-6 during the game, scoring four runs and adding a career-best eight RBI. The most impressive feat accomplished by Wilkes during the Wright State game was the fact that he hit two homers from different sides of the plate, using two different bats.
Wilkes is not the only SEC player to earn one of the nine Gold Glove awards in Division I, as Georgia sophomore first baseman Rich Poythress was also honored. Poythress ranked fourth in the SEC in chances (594), fourth in putouts (536) and third in double plays (50). Georgia was one of two SEC teams represented in Omaha at the College World Series, advancing to the final game of the championship series before falling to Fresno State.
The collegiate and high school Rawlings Gold Glove Awards are presented to NCAA Divisions I, II, and III players, NAIA players, NJCAA players, and high school players by Rawlings, in partnership with the ABCA. Nomination and voting criteria are the same as the ABCA Rawlings All-Region and All-American Awards, which are collegiate baseball’s oldest selections, dating back to 1949. The players and their schools will each receive a Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
2008 Rawlings NCAA Division I Gold Glove Awards
**Selected by the ABCA
1B Rich Poythress Georgia So.
2B Ryan Wilkes Kentucky Sr.
3B Paul Gran Wash. State Sr.
SS John Hee Hawaii Sr.
C Buster Posey Fla. State Jr.
OF Evan Bigley Dallas Bap. Jr.
OF Alex Hassan Duke So.
OF Sean Ratliff Stanford Jr.
P Adam Holdenrid NIU Sr.