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The Johnny Bench Award

Presented to the collegiate catcher whose talent, toughness, and integrity most closely resembled the legend after whom the award was named.


Matt Whatley hit .302 with 11 home runs, 11 doubles, and 49 RBIs this season for Oral Roberts. He also paced the Golden Eagles with a .446 on-base percentage, aided by drawing a team-high 50 walks, good for 11th in the nation. Defensively, he threw out 43% of potential base stealers and boasted a perfect fielding percentage in 507 chances. Whatley, who started all 59 games, is a three-time All-Summit League selection and the first ever Johnny Bench Award finalist from ORU. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round.

Johnny Bench Award

The Johnny Bench Award, proudly sponsored by BaseballSavings.com, is presented to the nation's most outstanding collegiate catcher, Johnny Bench, arguably the greatest catcher of all time, agreed to be the namesake for the annual award, which has accurately predicted some of MLB's next biggest stars including its most notable winner to date, Buster Posey.

Our association with Bench makes us familiar with legacies and how to fulfill big league dreams. We know looking up at a baseball immortal like Johnny Bench can be daunting. Just making it to the show might seem impossible. But each year, it happens. Promising young players make their MLB debut. So at BaseballSavings.com, we just have one question: Why not you?

About Johnny Bench

Johnny Bench was named to the NL All-Star team 14 times, played in every game from 1968 to 1975, and once set a major league record for home runs by a catcher (389). He won two home run crowns, led the league in RBIs three times, and was voted league MVP twice. In 1968, Bench became the first catcher to win Rookie of the Year, catching a rookie record 154 games, and winning the first of ten Gold Gloves. If that wasn't enough, he also profoundly impacted the game. He was the first receiver to use a protective helmet in the field, popularized catching one-handed, and kept his throwing hand behind his back to protect it from foul tips. In January 1989, Bench was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with the fourth highest percentage of the total votes cast.

The Selection Process

The Johnny Bench Award is presently annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher as voted on by Division I coaches.

A watch list is compiled from nominations received from the universities and released in March.

A selection committee will then narrow the list down to the semifinalists. Statistical information on each semifinalist is then compiled and sent to the national selection committee by the end of May. A vote by the national selection committee narrows the list to three finalists.

Another vote during the College World Series will determine who will be named the Johnny Bench National Collegiate Catcher of the Year. The three finalists will be brought to Wichita, KS for the awards banquet on June 29th, 2017.

2017 Semifinalists

Riley Adams, University of San Diego JR
David Banuelos, Long Beach State University JR
Joey Bart, Georgia Tech SO
Ben Breazeale, Wake Forest University SR
Brent Diaz, Louisiana Tech University JR
Troy Dixon, St. John's University SR
Grant Koch, University of Arkansas SO
Renae Martinez, University of Oklahoma SR
Adam McGinnis, Western Illinois University SR
Dominic Miroglio, University of San Francisco JR
Joey Morgan, University of Washington JR
Daulton Varsho, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR
Travis Watkins, East Carolina University SR
Matt Whatley, Oral Roberts University JR
Hunter Wood, Western Kentucky University SR

Past Winners

2000 - Brad Cresse, LSU
2001 - Kelly Shoppach, Baylor
2002 - Jeremy Brown, Alabama
2003 - Ryan Carko, Stanford
2004 - Kurt Suzuki, Cal State Fullerton
2005 - Jeff Clement, USC
2006 - Jake Smith, East Carolina
2007 - Ed Easley, Mississippi State
2008 - Buster Posey, Florida
2009 - J.T. Wise, Oklahoma
2010 - Bryan Holaday, Texas Christian
2011 - Jake Lowery, James Madison
2012 - Mike Zunino, Florida
2013 - Stuart Turner, Ole Miss
2014 - Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State
2015 - Garrett Stubbs, USC
2016 - Zack Collins, Miami
2017 - Matt Whatley, Oral Roberts

2016 Winner :
Zack Collins, Miami

2016 Finalists :
Logan Ice, Oregon State
Keith Skinner, North Florida

2015 Winner :
Garrett Stubbs, USC

2015 Finalists :
Kade Scivicque, Louisiana State
Matt Winn, Virginia Military Institute

2014 Winner :
Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State

2014 Finalists :
Will Allen, Mississippi
Kyle Schwarber, Indiana

2013 Winner :
Stuart Turner, Ole Miss

2013 Finalists :
Zane Evans, Georgia Tech
Mitch Garver, New Mexico

2012 Winner :
Mike Zunino, Florida

2012 Finalists :
Kevin Plawecki, Purdue
Mitch Garver, New Mexico