OXFORD, Miss. – Junior Stuart Turner was named the nation’s top collegiate catcher for the 2013 season when he was announced as the Johnny Bench Award on Thursday night by the Greater Wichita Sports Commission and BaseballSavings.com.
Turner, one of three finalists for the award that included Zane Evans of Georgia Tech and Mitchell Garver of New Mexico, is the first Bench Award winner from Ole Miss. It marks the second consecutive season that a player from the Southeastern Conference has won the award as Florida’ Mike Zunnino claimed the honor in 2012.
The Rebel catcher was selected one of the three finalists from a watch list of more than 70 catchers before being named the winner on Thursday.
One of the top players in the Southeastern Conference this season, Turner helped Ole Miss post a 38-24 record and advance to NCAA Tournament play for the 11th time in the last 13 seasons. He earned All-America honors and was named the Golden Glove winner at catcher by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Turner performed at a high level both offensively and defensively for the Rebels this season, most impressively with his defense behind the plate. The junior backstop threw out 51 percent of runners this season, gunning down 21-of-41 base runners on steal attempts to lead the Southeastern Conference in that category and all Bench Award finalists by a large margin with his defense.
At the plate, Turner hit .374 for the season with 51 RBI, 44 runs scored, 15 doubles and five home runs. He led the team at the plate and finished fourth in the SEC in batting average this past season as he helped Ole Miss post a 38-24 record and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in the last 13 seasons.
An All-SEC first team selection, Turner was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2013 MLB Draft with the 78th overall pick.