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Connor Joe Highlights Johnny Bench Award Watch List

March 6, 2014

SAN DIEGO - The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced the official watch list for the 2014 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com. Seventy-two catchers , highlighted by the University of San Diego's junior catcher Connor Joe, were nominated for the award by their coaches. Because the award is given annually to the top division one collegiate catcher, the list will be updated to include other candidates until May 5, 2014.

Joe, a 6-0 junior from Poway, Calif., is currently hitting .357 with 15 hits, two doubles, one triple, three home runs, and 16 RBI.  Joe spent this past summer transitioning from infielder to catcher, and he was an Cape Cod All-Star for his efforts.  This past season, Joe was a first-team All-WCC selection after hitting 319, while recording 74 hits, 14 doubles, seven home runs and 43 RBI. 

The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced May 15, 2014. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 3, 2014. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 17th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 26, 2014.

"We are extremely appreciative to BaseballSavings.com and Mr. Johnny Bench for supporting this prestigious award," stated Bob Hanson, President/CEO of the Sports Commission. "They are the ones who make all of this possible."

While Bench is remembered for his offense, he may have had the greatest impact behind the plate. 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.

Bench's career honors include: National League Rookie of the Year (1968); National League Most Valuable Player (1970, 1972); World Series Most Valuable Player (1976); 14-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner. In 1980, he set an endurance record by catching 100+ games for 13 consecutive seasons. Bench was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1989 with the fourth highest percentage of total votes cast.

Johnny Bench presented Ole Miss catcher, Stuart Turner, with the award last June in Wichita, Kansas. Mitchell Garver of the University of New Mexico and Zane Evans of Georgia Tech were the other finalists for the award.

2014 Johnny Bench Award Watch List

Will Allen  SR   University of Mississippi
Blake Austin  SR   Auburn University
Brett Austin  JR   North Carolina State University
Anthony Azar SR   Sam Houston State University
Tyler Baker  JR   Wichita State University
Caleb Barker  SR   University of Houston
John Bormann JR   UT San Antonio
Austin Bossart JR   University of Pennsylvania
Garrett Boulware JR   Clemson University
John Crummy SR   Miami University
Jose Cruz  SR   Jackson State University
Jared Deacon SR   Cal State Fullerton
Blair DeBord  SR   Kansas State University
Dustin Dhanani JR   Alabama A&M University
Nick Dini  JR   Wagner College
Matt Durst  JR   University of Southern Mississippi
Ka'iana Eldredge SR   University of Kansas
Alex Farkes  SR   Penn State
Mike Fischer  SR   Columbia University
Aramis Garcia JR   Florida International University
Mitch Ghelfi  SO   University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Kyle Gibson  SR   University of Louisville
Richard Gonzalez JR   Alabama State University
Grayson Greiner JR   University of South Carolina
Aaron Gretz  JR   Ohio State Unversity
Chase Griffin  JR   Georgia Southern University
Taylor Gushue JR   University of Florida
Sean Hagen  SR   Eastern Kentucky University
Chris Harvey  JR   Vanderbilt University
Ryan Hissey  SO   The College of William & Mary
Nate Irving  JR   University of Virginia
Connor Joe  JR   University of San Diego
TJ Losby  SR   Bowling Green State University
Tanner Lubach JR   University of Nebraska
Adam Martin SR   Western Carolina University
Cole Martin  SR   University of Michigan
Kevin Martir  SO   University of Maryland
Ryan Matranga SO   University of San Francisco
Greg McCall  SR   University of Texas-Arlington
Max McDowell SO   University of Connecticut
Ryan Messex  JR   Western Kentucky University
Levi Meyer  SR   Florida Atlantic University
Taylor Noyer SR   New Mexico State University
Brian O'Keefe JR   Saint Joesph's University
Brian Olson  JR   Seattle University
Joseph Olson  SO   Stephen F. Austin University
Tyler Pearson SR   Texas State University
Max Pentecost JR   Kennesaw State University
Taylor Peterson SR   University of North Dakota
Jordan Procyshen JR   Northern Kentucky University
Pat Quinn  SR   University of Rhode Island
Alex Real  JR   University of New Mexico
Josh Reavis  SR   Radford University
Matt Reed  FR   Marshall University
Jamie Ritchie JR   Belmont University
Daniel Rizzie  SO   Xavier University
Joey Roach  SO   Georgia State University
Mike Rosenfeld JR   Duke University
Kyle Schwarber JR   Indiana University
Adam Sonabend SR   Eastern Michigan University
Josh Spano  JR   High Point University
Garrett Stubbs JR   University of Southern California
Brett Sunde  SO   Western Michigan University
Wayne Taylor JR   Stanford University
Travis Watkins SO   East Carolina University
Luke Weber  SR   USC Upstate
Carter White  JR   University of Memphis
Mike Wieland SR   University of Arkansas Pine Bluff
Samm Wiggins JR   Houston Baptist University
Matt Winn  JR   Virginia Military Institute
Mark Zagunis JR   Virginia Tech
Shane Zeile  JR   University of California, Los Angeles