WITCHITA, Kan. (April 29, 2013) – Senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) of the Rutgers baseball team has been added to the official watch list for the 2013 Johnny Bench Award, presented by BaseballSavings.com, the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced. The award honors the nation’s top catcher in Division I college baseball.
It is the second straight year Melillo has earned a spot on the list.
Melillo has appeared in 41 games with 38 starts behind the plate for the Scarlet Knights this season. He leads BIG EAST catchers with 15 runners caught stealing, additionally picking off four runners at first base. The senior has not made an error in his last 26 games and has just three passed balls in over 320 innings receiving pitches.
At the plate, the senior has batted either fourth or fifth in the lineup and leads the team with 30 runs scored. He has collected 41 hits and knocked in 21, compiling a .423 slugging percentage. Melillo has also popped four home runs.
A two-time winner of the Ron Kish Award given to the RU player with the top GPA, Melillo maintains a 3.62 in Finance and will graduate this spring. He is also heavily involved in community service and has organized the Scarlet Knights’ Vs. Cancer Fundraiser that is approaching $10,000 in monies raised. Team members will shave their heads following Sunday’s game against Connecticut at Bainton Field in support.
Melillo was one of 12 catchers across the nation added, with 62 on the official watch list that will next be narrowed down to semifinalists on May 16. Three other BIG EAST backstops appear on the file, also including Dan Bethea (St. John’s), Kyle Gibson (Louisville) and Elvin Soto (Pittsburgh).
The Johnny Bench National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award, named after the Hall of Fame catcher, is presented annually to the nation’s best collegiate catcher as voted on by a panel of sportscasters, sportswriters, Division I catchers and professional scouts. In addition to on the field success, leadership, GPA and community involvement are also considered. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 16th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 27, 2013.
Click here for additionally information and the full official watch list.