WICHITA, Kan. — Arkansas sophomore catcher Grant Koch was named as one of 15 semifinalists this week for the 2017 Johnny Bench Award by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award honors the nation’s top catcher and Koch is the only Southeastern Conference player to make the list.
Koch is the second Razorback to be named a semifinalist for a national award in the last week. Sophomore Jax Biggers was named a semifinalist for the 2017 Brooks Wallace Award, which goes to the nation’s top shortstop.
Following in the footsteps of some of the best catchers in Razorback history, Koch took over as the primary catcher in just his second season, having started 46 of Arkansas’ 50 games behind the plate. Currently batting .296 on the year with a team-leading 13 home runs, Koch’s long ball total is tied for fourth in the SEC and it’s the most by a Razorback catcher in at least the last 15 seasons. It’s also the second-most home runs by a Razorback in the last seven seasons.
Koch is currently one of three Hogs with 40 or more RBIs on the year and he’s slugging a team-leading .577, which is good for sixth in the league. The Fayetteville, Arkansas native has been heating up as of late as he has four home runs in his last seven games going back to the Ole Miss series (April 27-28) and is hitting .320 during that span with seven RBIs.
In the field, Koch has continued to show that he has one of the best arms in the SEC as he has caught 12-of-32 (.375) would-be base stealers, six in conference play. His overall total is fourth highest in the conference and third-best percentage among all league catchers.
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 on June 5. 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 20th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 29. To see the full list of semifinalists for the award, CLICK HERE.
Koch and the Razorbacks are currently in College Station, Texas to face No. 22 Texas A&M for its final series of the regular season. The series starts Thursday at Blue Bell Park. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+. Game two will be on Friday, also at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+, while Saturday’s finale will be on the SEC Network at 11 a.m.
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