June 5, 2017
WICHITA, Kan. – The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced the three finalists for the 2017 Johnny Bench Award on Monday, with Long Beach State junior David Banuelos making the cut. The award is given each year to the best catcher in college baseball, and will be presented at an awards banquet in Wichita, Kan. on June 29.
Banuelos and the two other finalists for the award—Brent Diaz (Louisiana Tech) and Matt Whatley (Oral Roberts)—will all be brought to Wichita for the awards ceremony. The winner will be determined in a vote by the national selection committee during the College World Series.
The Johnny Bench Award has been presented each year since 2000, and has gone to some prominent future big leaguers like Buster Posey and Mike Zunino. Last year’s winner was Zack Collins from the University of Miami (FL).
Banuelos has been a force for Long Beach State this year, both on offense and behind the plate. He’s a .302 hitter that’s second on the team with seven home runs and a .492 slugging percentage. He has started 53 of LBSU’s 59 games, with 51 of those starts coming at catcher and the other two at first base. His .378 on-base percentage is best on the team, and he has 14 multi-hit games this year.
His calling card is on defense, however, where Banuelos is one of the best in the nation at throwing out baserunners. Only 11 of 29 potential basestealers have been successful against Banuelos, good for just a 37.9 percent success rate. In total, Long Beach State has stolen 71 bases this season while opponents have stolen just 15. Opponents have only had the courage to attempt a stolen base 37 times in LBSU’s 59 games.
Banuelos and the Dirtbags will look to keep their season going tonight in the championship game of the Long Beach Regional, 8 p.m. at Blair Field against Texas.