Ivan Melendez wins college baseball’s top individual honor after record-breaking season


Andrew Zamora/The Daily Texan

Texas baseball first basemen Ivan Melendez uses his glove to help secure the out at first base. Texas played Rice at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Feb 18, 2022.

Hunter Dworaczyk, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the June 27, 2022 flipbook.

Texas finally has itself a Golden Spikes Award winner.

Ivan Melendez, redshirt junior first baseman, won the Golden Spikes Award, an annual award that recognizes the top amateur baseball player in the country, on Friday during a live presentation on ESPN. Melendez is the first Longhorn ever to earn the honor.

Nicknamed the “Hispanic Titanic,” Melendez became the 44th winner of the Golden Spikes. Comparable to the Heisman Trophy in college football, the Texas first baseman joins a group of past Golden Spikes winners that includes big names like Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper and Buster Posey.

“It just means everything, knowing the history of baseball and being among some of these prestigious guys,” Melendez said after receiving the award. “Having your name on that trophy means a lot. I (don’t have) words to describe this feeling.”

After a stellar season as the Longhorns’ designated hitter last year, Melendez could have played professional baseball this year. The Miami Marlins selected him in the 16th round in the 2021 MLB Draft, but Melendez chose to bet on himself and stay at Texas for another year.

The move paid off for Melendez. The slugger hit 32 home runs and batted in 94 runs on the year, both of which led the nation. A consensus All-American, Melendez got to play first base on defense this season and impressively fielded at a .997 percentage with only two errors.

After his remarkable 2022 season, Melendez currently sits as the 115th best draft prospect according to MLB.com, over 350 spots higher than the spot he was drafted last season.

“You could say (I was) betting on myself or just trying to get better,” Melendez said May 18. “It wasn’t anything about draft stock. I’ve always been a good ball player, and I’d always have a chance at pro ball. I just saw it as getting comfortable with defense and playing every day.”

The 2022 season wasn’t Melendez’s first time taking a chance on himself in an effort to prove what he was capable of. Coming out of Coronado High School in 2018, Melendez had one partial Division I scholarship offer from New Mexico State. Instead of jumping at the chance to play DI, Melendez patiently went the junior college route and played at Odessa College. 

Melendez became an NJCAA All-American as a freshman at Odessa, batting .411 with 17 home runs. Despite a sophomore year shortened by COVID-19, Melendez had done enough to get an offer from Texas.

“You’re going to have coaches or critics tell you that you’re not good enough to do it, but just put your head down and grind,” Melendez said on ESPN. “That’s how I felt going through the junior college route. Playing in small cities, not having many things to do and working out twice a day.”

Melendez’s 32 home runs this year set the new program record for Texas and is the most any college player has hit in a single season since 2003. Although he only spent two seasons at Texas, many believe that Melendez’s No. 17 jersey should be retired, including his teammates.

“He’s the greatest player that ever played college baseball in my opinion,” redshirt sophomore shortstop Trey Faltine said June 2. “Having him on our team and just being able to be around him every day is special.”