WICHITA, Kansas - The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission has named East Carolina junior catcher Jared Avchen to the official watch list for the 2009 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by AT&T and Papa John's Pizza, the organization announced Monday evening. Fifty-three catchers from across the country were nominated for the award, given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher.
Avchen has started 40-of-45 games behind the dish where he is batting .285 (35-for-123) with two home runs, 23 RBI with four doubles and 17 runs scored. In his first year with the Pirates, he has recorded a team second-best five game-winning RBIs and has helped the Pirates weekend starters to a combined 22-4 record. Avchen has been on the receiving end of three shutouts, including a 4-0 win over No. 1 North Carolina, as well as Seth Maness’ complete game win over No. 3 Rice on April 11.
A native of Palm Bay, Fla., Avchen becomes the third catcher since 2006 named to the prestigious award following 2006 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award winner Jake Smith and 2008 semi-finalist Corey Kemp.
The watch list will be narrowed down to ten semifinalists, whom will be announced May 14, 2009. Statistics will be compiled on each of the semifinalists and 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, 2009 prior to the NCAA Super Regionals and Major League Baseball Draft. 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 12th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 26, 2009.