For the second year in a row, Florida’s Mike Zunino has been named a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award which is given to the country’s top catcher each year. The Gators junior one of three finalists in 2011. He is the only SEC player among the 12 semifinalists this year.
After being named the SEC Player of the Year, Zunino has had continued success this season. He leads the third-ranked Gators in RBI (49), doubles (22), home runs (14), total bases (127), sac flies (seven) and slugging percentage (.645). Zunino ranks second on the team with a .320 batting average, 63 hits and stolen bases, getting eight in nine attempts. He is third in runs scored with 40 and has a .379 on-base percentage.
Defensively, he has a .993 fielding percentage with three errors in 411 chances. He has thrown out 14 runners attempting to steal.
Zunino is expected to be a high pick if he leaves Florida early for the Major League Baseball Draft, with Baseball America projecting the catcher to go third overall.
The other semifinalists for the award are: Derrick Chung, Sacramento State; Zachary Fisher, New Mexico State; Tucker Frawley, Coastal Carolina; Mitchell Garver, New Mexico; Tyler Heineman, UCLA; Joe Hudson, Notre Dame; Jeremy Lucas, Indiana State; Josh Ludy, Baylor; Jeff Melillo, Rutgers; Kevin Plawecki, Purdue; Jeremy Schaffer, Tulane.
A national voting panel will narrow the lists to three finalists to be announced on June 4. Those three will be brought to Wichita, Kan., and the winner will be announced at 15th annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 28.
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