Honoring the top overall Collegiate Baseball & Softball catchers in the country, as well as the top high school catchers from Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
For two decades, the Johnny Bench Award was presented to college baseball’s top NCAA Division I catcher. The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission created the award in 2000, and in 2019 was brought by Johnny to the Cincinnati Reds for an expanded program.
The award now includes a top college softball winner, as well as regional, "Reds Country", high school baseball and softball honorees from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia. All winner are recognized in the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Candidates are assembled from direct online submissions, All-State rosters, other award nominations and state athletic association recommendations. An awards committee determines a group of finalists based on statistics and support from local sources from each state. Johnny hand picks the winner.
This past year, all ten winners were invited to virtually receive their award the evening of June 24, 2020. The awards are presented by MSA Sport and Ohio’s 529 Plan CollegeAdvantage.
The 1st University of Kentucky softball player to win the division 1 College Batting Champion, Kayla lead the league in batting average among qualifiers while recording 100 hits and a record hitting steak. She was named to Softball America and National Fastpitch Coaches Association 1st team All-American and was a USA Softball Player of the Year finalist.
Shortly after his selection to this award, he joined Johnny Bench in the ranks of Cincinnati Reds catchers after being draft by them in the first round. Matheu was selected as a 1st team All-American by several organizations, including Baseball America and the NCBWA. He was named a semifinalist for both the Golden Spikes and Dick Howser Awards, as well as ACC and Rawlings/Perfect Game Player of the Year.
Watkins Memorial High School
· Division 1 First Team All-State Catcher
· Central District All Star
· All-Metro Player of the Year
· Committed to University of Toledo
Lyon County High School
· An East-West State All Star
· A 1st team All-State catcher
· Set a school home run record this past season
· Committed to Southeast Missouri State
Bedford North High School
· 3 Time All State Catcher
· Miss Softball Finalist
· National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America
· Committed to University of Kentucky
Parkersburg High School
· 3x First Team All-State Catcher
· Premier Girls Fastpitch Regional All-American Finalist
· Conference Player of the Year
· Committed to North Carolina State University
South Range High School
· D3 First Team All-State Catcher
· First Team All Prep Baseball Report Team
· 2021 PBR Position Player of the Year
· Committed to THE Ohio State University
Trinity High School
· All-State Catcher and Academic All-State Athlete
· 2021 KY State Champion
· East Coast Pro Showcase Team
· Committed to University of Louisville
Columbus North High School
· 3x All Conference Catcher
· 2021 All State Catcher
· Prep Baseball Report’s #32 Catcher in the Country
· Committed to University of Louisville
Shady Spring High School
· First Team All-State Catcher
· US Elite National Team
· All Coalfield Conference Catcher
· Committed to the University of Delaware
Johnny Bench Awards honor top catchers
Bench award ceremony
Reds legend presenting the Johnny Bench Awards
Jim Day recaps the annual Johnny Bench Awards
Starting February 1, 2022, the Johnny Bench Awards will be accepting candidates for the Johnny Bench Awards to be added to the watch list. Catchers are also added based on scouting recommendations and published rankings.
All watch list candidates will be asked for their regular season statistics. Players will then be narrowed down by statistical qualifiers.
With the support of state coaching associations and other sources, we begin to narrow qualified catchers to a group of 3-5 finalists. Finalists will have played the majority of their games at the catching position.
Johnny uses statistics, awards and scouting video to hand pick the award recipients. Winners are hosted in Cincinnati by the Reds organization for an awards banquet benefiting the Reds Community Fund and Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund. Announcement of winners varies depending on stat collection and event timing.
Brad Cresse, Louisiana State University - 2000
Kelly Shoppach, Baylor University - 2001
Jeremy Brown, University of Alabama - 2002
Ryan Garko, Stanford University - 2003
Kurt Suzuki, Cal State Fullerton, 2004
Jeff Clement, University of Southern California - 2005
Jake Smith, East Carolina University - 2006
Ed Easley, Mississippi State University - 2007
Buster Posey, Florida State University - 2008
J.T. Wise, University of Oklahoma - 2009
Bryan Holaday, Texas Christian University - 2010
Jake Lowery, James Madison University - 2011
Mike Zunino, University of Florida - 2012
Stuart Turner, University of Mississippi - 2013
Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State University - 2014
Garrett Stubbs, University of Southern California - 2015
Zack Collins, University of Miami - 2016
Matt Whatley, Oral Roberts University , 2017
Joey Bart, Georgia Tech University - 2018
Adley Rutschman, Oregon State University - 2019
Patrick Bailey, North Carolina State - 2020
Dejah Mulipola, University of Arizona 2019
Morganne Flores, University of Washingston 2020
Nate Webb, Union County High School - 2019
Dalton Back, Columbus East High School - 2020
Grace Lorsung, Cathedral High School - 2019
Taryn Weddle, Floyd central High School - 2020
Colin Bugress, Tates Creek High School - 2019
Grant Knipp, Louisville Male High School - 2020
Riley Hull, Pulaski County High School - 2019
Taylor Jackson, Oldham County High School - 2020
Joe Powell, Mason High School - 2019
Mason Sawyer, Bishop Hartley High School - 2020
Samantha Hackenbracht, Massillon Washington High School - 2019
Zoie Smith, Pickerington Central High School, 2020
Caleb Taylor, Morgantown High School - 2019
Eli Kirkendoll, Lincoln County High School -2020
Sophia Mikula, Weir High School - 2019
Jess Canterbury, Herbert Hoover High School, 2020
In 2019, the Johnny Bench Awards moved to partnering with the Cincinnati Reds and expanded their program beyond collegiate baseball.
*Italics represents players with MLB service time.