In its 30th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, a brand of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc., in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Luken Baker, of Oak Ridge High School in Conroe, Texas, as its 2014-15 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. Baker was surprised with the news at school by former three-time MLB All-Star Roy Oswalt.

"It felt great to surprise Luken with the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award and welcome him into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Oswalt in a statement. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Baker as the nation's best high school baseball player, the company says. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Baker from more than 470,000 high school baseball players nationwide. Baker is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July, it says.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound senior right-handed pitcher and first baseman has led the War Eagles to a 29-2 record and the Class 6A Regional Final, scheduled for June 6. Baker owns a 12-0 record with a 1.02 ERA and 120 strikes in 82 innings-pitched. Offensively, he's batting .448 with eight home runs and a .632 on-base percentage through 31 games. A 2015 Perfect Game All-American and a 2014 Under Armour All-American, Baker was a member of USA Baseball's 18U National Team that won a third consecutive gold medal after compiling a 12-0 record at the 2014 Pan American Championship in Mexico last summer. He batted .500 (19-for-38) in the tournament with three home runs, 15 RBI and a .565 on-base percentage. He also contributed on the mound with 2.1 hitless innings for Team USA, including four strikes.

The high school senior has maintained a 3.75 GPA in the classroom. A member of the youth group at Christ Church United Methodist, Baker has donated his time to The Woodlands Children's Festival. He also has volunteered in association with the Special Olympics and serves as a peer mentor on behalf of Oak Ridge High's Safe School Ambassadors Club.

"Luken Baker is a very talented and intriguing two-way player," said Jim Callis, senior writer for MLBPipeline at, said in a statement. "He'll likely be drafted in the first two rounds in June as a pitcher, which makes sense because he can hit 95 mph with his fastball and back it up with a hard slider. However, he has as much raw power as anyone in this draft as well. With his size, strength and bat speed, he can hit balls to places that only a few hitters can even dream of."

Baker has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on scholarship at Texas Christian University this fall, but is projected as an early round selection in June's Major League Baseball draft.

"Luken embodies everything we look for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient," said Gatorade Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley in a statement. "In addition to being one of the best high school baseball players in the country, Luken has excelled in the classroom and been a positive influence in his community. He is a role model for younger student-athletes to look up to and we are excited to see all the things he will accomplish in the future."

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:
• Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
• WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie
• NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith
• Three-time beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh
• Four-time track & field gold medalist Allyson Felix

All-time Gatorade National Baseball Players of the Year

Year Name High School Status
Luken Baker Oak Ridge/Conroe, TX High School Senior
Justus Sheffield Tullahoma/Tullahoma, TN Cleveland Indians Org.
Clint Frazier Loganville/Loganville, GA Cleveland Indians Org.
Lance McCullers Jesuit/Tampa, FL Houston Astros Org.
Dylan Bundy Owasso/Owasso, OK Baltimore Orioles
Kaleb Cowart Cook/Adel, GA Los Angeles Angels Org.
Matt Hobgood Norco/Norco, CA Baltimore Orioles Org.
Kyle Skipworth Patriot/Riverside, CA Miami Marlins
Rick Porcello Seton Hall Prep/West Orange, NJ Boston Red Sox
Clayton Kershaw Highland Park/Dallas, TX Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Upton Great Bridge/Chesapeake, VA San Diego Padres
Mark Rogers Mt. Ararat/Topsham, Maine Univ. of Pennsylvania Student
Chris Lubanski Kennedy-Kenric Catholic/Norristown, PA Retired from MLB
Zack Greinke Apopka/Apopka, FL Los Angeles Dodgers
Casey Kotchman Seminole/Seminole, FL Retired from MLB
Jason Stokes Coppell/Coppell, TX Retired from MLB
B.J. Garbe Moses Lake/Moses Lake, WA Retired from MLB
Drew Henson Brighton/Brighton, MI Retired from NFL and MLB
Darnell McDonald Cherry Creek/Englewood, CO Retired from MLB
Matt White Waynesboro/Waynesboro, PA Retired from MLB
Chad Hutchinson Torrey Pines/San Diego, CA Retired from NFL and MLB
Doug Million Sarasota/Sarasota, FL Deceased
Alex Rodriguez Westminster Christian/Miami, FL New York Yankees
A.J. Hinch Midwest City/Midwest City, OK Houston Astros Manager
Brian Barber Dr. Phillips/Orlando, FL Retired from MLB
Todd VanPoppel James Martin/Arlington, TX. Retired from MLB
Jeff Jackson Simeon/Chicago, IL Retired from MLB
Mark Lewis Hamilton/Hamilton, OH Retired from MLB
Willie Banks St. Anthony's/Jersey City, NJ Retired from MLB
Gary Sheffield Hillsborough/Tampa, FL Retired from MLB