The names are now familiar to Major League Baseball fans -- J.D. Drew, Phil Nevin, Pat Burrell, Jason Varitek, Khalil Greene, Jason Jennings and Mark Prior.

But before they made their mark in the Majors, all these big leaguers were winners of the Golden Spikes Award, the prize given annually to the nation's top amateur baseball player.

The latest player to have his name added to the list of winners will be revealed Friday at 1 p.m. ET by USA Baseball during a telecast on ESPNU, the new 24-hour college sports network. The Major League Baseball Players Association is the title sponsor for the Golden Spikes Award and provides financial support for USA Baseball national teams and corresponding development events.

Five outstanding players, all college juniors, were named as finalists: Ryan Braun, a third baseman for the University of Miami; Jeff Clement, a catcher for USC; Trevor Crowe, an outfielder for Arizona; Alex Gordon, a third baseman for Nebraska; and Luke Hochevar, a pitcher for Tennessee.

Each of the players compiled impressive personal statistics, while, more importantly, leading their teams to the NCAA postseason this year. Both Gordon and Hochevar's team made it to the College World Series.

Feared and respected in the college ranks, the five finalists are also highly prized by Major League teams. Gordon, for example, was the No. 2 overall pick by the Royals in this month's First-Year Player Draft. With the third pick, the Seattle Mariners took Clement, while the Milwaukee Brewers selected Braun with the draft's No. 5 pick. Crowe, meanwhile, was taken at No. 14 in the first round by the Cleveland Indians, and Hochevar was selected in the compensation round at No. 40 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"USA Baseball is proud to recognize the inspiring performances of the nation's top collegiate baseball players and to be able to join with ESPNU in televising this exciting announcement," said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler last week.

Not too surprisingly, each of this year's Golden Spikes finalists have special talents:

Braun, an All-American, was one of the most consistent players this season for the Hurricanes. He led Miami with 18 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .726 slugging percentage. His .388 batting average was second-best on perennial power Miami.

Clement, also an All-American, has long been considered one of best catchers in collegiate baseball, and this year he hit .348 for the Trojans, while slugging 15 home runs and 54 RBIs. He also committed just three errors.

Crowe is a dangerous leadoff hitter who led the Pac-10 in eight offensive categories this year and was named the conference co-player of the year. The All-American had a .403 batting average and a Pac-10 record 15 triples.

An All-American and two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, Gordon is a five-tool player who led Nebraska in hitting (.372), home runs (19) and RBIs (66) this season. The left-handed hitting Gordon also had a .518 on-base percentage this season.

Hochevar is viewed by many as one of the top pitchers in all of college baseball. He had a 15-3 record this year and a 2.26 ERA. In 139 2/3 innings, he has recorded 154 strikeouts and just 54 walks.

Last year's winner of the Golden Spikes Award was Jered Weaver of Long Beach State, who recently signed with the Angels. The Golden Spikes Award has been presented annually by USA Baseball since 1978.

Dean Golembeski is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.