Catcher honored for success in baseball's toughest position

May 16, 2021

Spider Pride

It’s generally acknowledged, in baseball circles, that the role of catcher is the most challenging position on the diamond. From a degree-of-difficulty perspective, then, Spiders redshirt junior Drew Blakely’s recent achievement is particularly impressive — he’s been named to the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Watch List.

Presented annually to the best catcher in NCAA Division I baseball, the Buster Posey award is a major honor and often a bellwether of future success in the pro game, said UR head baseball coach Tracy Woodson.

“Since 2000, all winners of the Buster Posey Award have gone on to play professionally, with 12 making their Major League debuts,” he said.  “Being recognized for this national award is something very special.”

Blakely is the only catcher from an Atlantic 10 school to be named to the watch list, joining 68 other nominated players from around the country. Semi-finalists will be announced May 20, and the final vote will take place at the College World Series in June.

Team captain Blakely currently leads the Spiders with a .392 batting average and is known as a difficult hitter to strike out. He currently has a perfect fielding percentage behind home plate and has thrown out 12 of 20 attempted base stealers so far this season.

Blakely said his love for the catcher position goes back to his Little League days.

“I first started playing catcher in Little League because nobody else wanted to do it,” he said. “Since then, I have learned to love the ability to see the whole field and take a leadership role over the pitching staff and the defense.”

Coach Woodson says Blakely’s bat has been a key to the team’s success this season, along with his solid defense and game-calling instincts. 

“His ability on the field is among the best in the nation, but his personal relationships and leadership skills are truly what sets him apart,” Woodson said.

For his part, Blakely says he’s grateful to be part of a team as tenacious and tightly knit as the Spiders.

“I just want to thank the coaching staff and players for embracing me and challenging me to be the best player that I could be over these last couple years,” he said. “Without the support staff and their encouragement there is no way I would be recognized for an honor like this.”