WICHITA, Kan.--- The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced the official watch list for the 2018 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com on Friday. Fullerton's Daniel Cope is one of 97 catchers nominated for the award by their coaches. Because the award is given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher, the final deadline to update to include other candidates is April 30th.
The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced on May 16. 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 4, while 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 the 21st Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 28th.
Cope has been huge for the Titans early on, as he leads the team in RBI (6) and home runs (2), while his slugging percentage is ranked second on the squad (.429).
The San Diego, California native is in the midst of the best stretch of his young career. He's currently riding a five-game hit streak, while he's gone 7-of-18 from the plate for a .388 batting average during that span. He's scored a run in four consecutive games and six total during that span. He's also driven in four. He also delivered two home runs last weekend at Tulane. Not to mention, Cope serves as one of the true leaders on and off the field even though he's just a sophomore.
While Johnny Bench is remembered for his offense, he may have had the greatest impact behind the plate. He was the first receiver to use a protective helmet in the field, popularized catching one-handed and kept his throwing hand behind his back to protect it from foul tips.
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