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Mississippi State’s Easley wins top catcher prize


Mississippi State junior catcher Edward Easley has been named recipient of the 2007 Coleman Company Johnny Bench Award as the nations top collegiate catcher.

Bench, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame catcher, presented the award to Easley on Wednesday at the 10th annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet.

Easley becomes the third Southeastern Conference player to win the award since it was first presented in 2000.

“This is like a dream come true … something I’ll cherish forever,” said Easley. “Just to be among the finalists with the other great college catchers and their impressive resumes is a tremendous honor.”

Easley, from Olive Branch, Miss., and a supplemental first round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was one of three finalists for the award, joining Florida State’s Buster Posey and Georgia Tech’s Matt Wieters in the final round of voting.

He helped the Bulldogs to a 38-22 record, a 5-0 run in the NCAA regionals and super regionals and the school’s eighth appearance in the NCAA College World Series.

Earlier this year, Easley won the Cellular South Ferriss Trophy, given annually to the top collegiate baseball player in Mississippi. He was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference catcher.

Easley had a career-best .358 batting average during the just-ended season and started all 60 games behind the plate for Mississippi State. He led MSU with 59 runs scored, a career-high 87 hits, 12 home runs and 63 RBI.

He compiled a .994 fielding percentage in the just concluded season and threw out 29 runners attempting stolen bases.

Easley was expected to be in Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday, where he undergo physical exams and sign a contract with the Diamondbacks.

He will be assigned to the Yakima (Wash.) Bears of the Northwest League.

–Associated Press

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