Oral Roberts catcher Matt Whatley was selected as one of three finalists for the prestigious 2017 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com. He becomes the first finalist from ORU since the award's inception in 2000.
Whatley, a three-year starter for the Golden Eagles, has thrown out 43 percent of potential base stealers this season behind a perfect fielding percentage in 507 chances, while starting all 59 games. The Claremore, Oklahoma, product has been just as good offensively, posting a .302 batting average with 11 home runs, 11 doubles and 49 RBI. He also paced ORU with a .446 on-base percentage.
The junior was a three-time All-Summit League selection at ORU and named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list as a sophomore in 2016. Drawing a team-high 50 walks this year, ranking 11th in the nation, he moved into the top 10 in program history with 115.
The annual award is presented to the collegiate catcher whose talent, toughness and integrity most closely resembled the legend after whom the award was named. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series and all finalists will be brought to Wichita with the winner announced at the 20th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 29, 2017.