Watkins Named Semifinalists for Bench Award
East Carolina red-shirt sophomore Travis Watkins has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2015 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com. Watkins is one of eight underclassmen named on the list and he is the third Pirate in school history to be named a semifinalist joining Jake Smith (2006 winner) and Corey Kemp (2007-08 semifinalist). The Concord, N.C. native has caught 51 games behind the plate throwing out 17 of 42 (40.5 percent) would be base stealers, which ranks 15th nationally. At the plate he is batting .305 with two home runs, 31 RBI, 23 runs scored and shares the team lead with 15 multi-hit games. In early January Watkins became the fifth catcher in program history to be named to the initial watch list following Smith, Kemp, Jared Avchen (2010) and Zach Wright (2010-12). He is the lone Pirate catcher to appear on the watch list three times (2013-15) and the third with multiple selections. One key criteria in determining the semifinalists is that they must be the starting catcher for their team in 75 percent of the games. For the first time since the inception of the award there were several offensively strong nominees that did not meet the criteria to move forward in the selection process. 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 2, 2015. 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 18th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 25, 2015.
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