Buford’s Joey Bart becomes first Yellow Jacket to win Johnny Bench Award

Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart fires a ball to second during a game against Louisville.

Georgia Tech’s Joey Bart made program history once again on Thursday night as the former Yellow Jacket catcher was named the 2018 Johnny Bench Award winner, the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced at the 21st Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet in Wichita, Kan.

The 2018 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com is awarded to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate catcher.

Bart, who was just the third Yellow Jacket catcher to be tabbed a finalist for the national award joining Matt Wieters (2007) and Zane Evans (2013) earlier this season, became the first-ever Tech catcher to win the prestigious collegiate award.

A 2018 consensus all-America, Bart had an excellent junior season in 2018 in which he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the all-ACC first team.

The Buford, Ga. native led the ACC in hitting with a .359 batting average on the season. He led Georgia Tech and ranked second in the ACC in slugging percentage (.632), third in on-base percentage (.471), third in total bases (139), fourth in hits (79), and was fifth with a team-high 16 home runs. The junior also scored 55 runs which ranked in the top 10 in the ACC on the year. He recorded a team-high 16-game hitting streak and totaled 24 multi-hit games in 2018, which included a pair of multi-home run games at Mercer on April 10 and at Virginia on May 14.

While calling the pitches for the Tech pitching staff behind the plate, he posted a .992 fielding percentage, threw out 12-of-33 would-be base stealers and recorded three pickoffs.

Bart, who became the highest MLB Draft pick in Georgia Tech history when he was selected No. 2 overall in the first round of the 2018 MLB First-Year Draft by the San Francisco Giants, was also a 2018 Dick Howser Trophy finalist, a 2018 Golden Spikes Award semifinalist, an ABCA/Rawlings Atlantic all-region first team selection and the NCBWA District 4 Player of the Year.

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