Each year, the “Johnny Bench Award” is awarded to the top Division-I catcher by The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. Semi-finalists will be announced on May 17th, and the winner on June 29th.
Eighty-five catchers have been nominated by their coaches thus far (players can be added up until May 1).
Eight former Valley Leaguers have been named to the original watch list, which was released on collegebaseballdaily.com on March 9th. Here are the eight catchers (in alphabetical order):
- Ben Breazeale, Wake Forest (Harrisonburg 2014). Ben is hitting 385/452/596 in 52 at-bats for the Demon Deacons so far this season.
- Michael Curry, Georgia (Strasburg 2016). He’s hitting 254/333/475 in 59 at-bats. He leads the Bulldogs with 4 home runs, 17 RBIs, and 28 total bases so far this season.
- Austin Hale, Stetson (Woodstock 2013, Waynesboro 2015). Austin’s hitting 167/244/194 in 36 at-bats so far.
- Jake Kusz, UNC Greensboro (Harrisonburg 2016). Jake has appeared in only 2 games so far, and went 2-4.
- Spencer Levine, Florida Gulf Coast (Winchester 2015-16). He’s hitting 269/403/423 in 52 at-bats so far in 2017.
- Peyton Maddox, VMI (Charles Town 2015, Staunton 2016). Peyton is hitting 261/382/543 in 46 at-bats for the Keydets.
- Fabian Pena, Manhattan (Covington 2016). He’s hitting 326/370/442 in 43 at-bats so far. Whoa- just noticed this. On Fabian’s bio page, this line jumps out: “Turned in arguably the finest season in school history” in 2016, his freshman year.
- Jake Sidwell, Davidson (Charlottesville 2015). He’s hitting 269/472/385 in 26 at-bats in 2017.
Good luck to all of you- hopefully one of you will win the award!