June 4, 2012
Johnny Bench Award Info | MLB Draft Info
WICHITA, Kan. -- Purdue baseball's Kevin Plawecki has advanced to the final round of the Johnny Bench Award selection process and now stands as one of three finalists nationally for the award that recognizes the top NCAA Division I catcher.
New Mexico's Mitchell Garver, Florida's Mike Zunino and Plawecki were announced as three finalists by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission Monday. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be invited to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 15th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 28.
Plawecki and Zunino are also currently semifinalists for USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. Both honors recognize the top college player in the country. The Johnny Bench Award semifinalist list featured 12 catchers. Plawecki was a Bench Award semifinalist for the second year in a row.
After leading Purdue to a program-record 45 wins, Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles and the program's first NCAA Regional appearance since 1987, Plawecki has been recognized prominently over the last month. Along with the watch lists for the aforementioned national awards, he was also selected as a Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. He was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and Tournament Most Outstanding Player, becoming only the fifth player to sweep the honors (Player or Pitcher of the Year) in the same season.
The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft gets underway tonight (June 4). Plawecki was tabbed as a second round talent by Baseball America. Round one and compensation round A are set for tonight, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Rounds 2-15 are Tuesday, starting at noon ET. Classmates Cameron Perkins and Nick Wittgren could also be selected Tuesday.
Plawecki was one of two Boilers to start every game this season, starting behind the plate in 49 of the 59 contests. While calling his own game defensively, he also led Purdue with 20 doubles, 31 extra-base hits, a .578 slugging percentage, 26 walks and a .445 on-base percentage. He was the toughest batter to strikeout in the Big Ten and did not strikeout in the final 12 games of the year. He was named First Team All-Big Ten for the second year in a row, becoming only the third player in program history to be a two-time First Team honoree.
Notable former Johnny Bench Award winners currently playing in Major League Baseball includes Buster Posey (2008), Kurt Suzuki (2004) and Kelly Shoppach (2001). James Madison's Jake Lowery was the 2011 winner. Zunino is a finalist for the second year in a row.