– Junior Southeast Missouri catcher Brian Lees
is one of 15 collegiate catchers added to the 2016 Johnny Bench Award Watch List presented by BaseballSavings.com, the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced Tuesday.
Lees, who hails from Brunswick, Ohio, transferred to Southeast from the University of Akron this season. In his first year with Southeast, he has started 36 of 44 games behind the plate. He has gunned down seven runners attempting to steal and has allowed 24 stolen bases. He has allowed only four passed balls in 41 total games. Lees leads the Redhawks in putouts with 300 and has committed only three errors. As a team, Southeast ranks at the bottom of Ohio Valley Conference in wild pitches with only 29. Southeast had 55 wild pitches a season ago.
At the plate, Lees is hitting .285, has scored 26 runs, knocked four home runs, a triple, and four doubles. He has driven in 28 runs and has drawn 23 walks. This season, he has nine multi-hit games and and six multi-RBI games.
A record 101 collegiate catchers comprise this year's list. Catchers are nominated by their school for consideration of the award. The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced May 18, 2016. 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 June 6, 2016. 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 at the 19th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 30, 2016.
Lees joins Murray State's Tyler Lawrence and Eastern Kentucky's Logan Starnes in representing the OVC on the list.