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Get To Know: Twins RHP Tyler Benninghoff

Today, I’m excited to post another Q&A with a Minnesota Twins prospect. Tyler Benninghoff was the Twins 11th-round draft pick in June out of high school in Kansas. He signed fairly quickly for well over slot. You see, many projected him to be drafted in the top three rounds, if healthy. When the Twins announced the signing, they also announced that he was going to have Tommy John surgery. He had the surgery in late June with Dr. James Andrews performing the procedure.

Benninghoff got to spend a little time at home after surgery but soon went to Ft. Myers to begin his rehab. He’ll be spending a lot of time in Ft. Myers the next 12-18 months.
Image courtesy of Janelle Benninghoff
Recently, Seth was able to catch up with the talented right-hander. Below you will find his responses.


Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up in Kansas, which was your favorite team to follow? Who were some of your favorite players?

Tyler Benninghoff (TB): My favorite team to watch growing up was the Royals, and my favorite player has to be Alex Gordon.


SS: What were some of the better memories of your high school baseball career? Did you play other sports or were you involved in other activities?

TB: Some of the better memories from high school ball would include playing with my brother sophomore year. I did play football all four years and played basketball as well.


SS: What was the recruitment process like for you in high school? Was it a process you enjoyed?

TB: The recruitment process was definitely enjoyable, getting to go on visits to great schools like Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Arkansas.


SS: You committed to Arkansas. How difficult was the decision to sign with the Twins as opposed to going to college? What were some of the determining factors?

TB: The decision was a difficult one especially having my brother at Arkansas. However, the opportunity at hand was too great to pass up and the decision was made between my family and I based on the fact I had the best opportunity to rehab and develop as a baseball player with the Twins.


SS: Did you have the chance to speak with many scouts before the draft? What was your interaction with the Twins?

TB: I had been in contact with Mr. Mike Ruth and he was fully aware of my situation and had said the Twins were still interested and after some negotiations we came to terms we all agreed on.

SS: The Twins took you in the 11th round. What was your draft-following experience? How did you find out that you had been drafted? How busy was your phone at that moment?

TB: My draft-following experience was very interesting considering I found out I had been drafted while at Premier Baseball doing some work on my arm. Following that, I received a bunch of congratulatory texts and phone calls from friends and family.


SS: What has the adjustment like for you, from the high school game to the professional game, both on and off the field?

TB: The biggest adjustment I have had to make so far is figuring out how to keep my body healthy and ready to work out or condition every day.


SS:At what point during your season did you realize that something wasn’t right with your elbow? How difficult were the discussions and your eventual decision to have Tommy John surgery?

TB: I had injured my arm throwing before the season. I had known immediately something was wrong with my arm, but I wanted to exhaust every possibility before getting Tommy John. Eventually that's what it came to, and I was at peace with that.


SS: What have the last few months been like for you in terms of getting to Ft. Myers and your rehab process?

TB: The last few month have been exactly what I expected and wanted, I get to do my rehab and work out every day and so far it's been great.


SS: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher? What pitches do you throw?

TB: I would say my best ability is my pitch ability. I throw a fastball, curveball, and a change-up.


SS: What are the areas of your game that you would like to spend time working to improve?

TB: Areas I want to work on are increasing my velocity and developing a true slider.


SS: What do you have planned for the offseason? Are you going to spend most of your time in Ft. Myers?

TB: I am going to be here rehabbing in Ft. Myers and will be here most of the time, but get to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.


SS: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?

TB: There have been many people especially my family most importantly, and other important people like Jeremy Jones, Mark Goodwin, Casey Shaw, Keith Picht, Rob Jackson and many more.


SS: Favorite Baseball movie?

TB: Bull Durham.


Thank you very much to Tyler Benninghoff for taking time to answer our questions. Feel free to send in your questions and comments.

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11 Comments

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ashburyjohn
Oct 14 2016 07:09 AM

Interesting gamble by the team. Joc Pederson was an 11th rounder for the Dodgers a few years ago - maybe we'll have the same kind of return.

 

In any case, good luck to Tyler and his rehab.

    • Thrylos likes this

I like when teams can get top 3 round ability in the 11th round.  He will have a tough road in front of him but its a gamble that has little risk for the Twins.  And he will be able to have professional trainers helping him recover from an injury.  - Good Luck.

Best of luck to the young man. This is the kind of risk/reward move, the kind of forward thinking move the Twins need to make more of. Could be a huge steal.

I was surprised that Twins made the move to get him but I really liked that they got him.  Hard to say if it will pay off or not but a good move for the 11th round for sure.  Sure seems like he has the pitches hopefully he can refine them and make it to MLB.

I don't know if I understand why this is so risky, relative to other draft picks (specifically 11th round draft picks).

It's not 1992. Returning to form after a TJ isn't unlikely. Nearly every pitcher has it done eventually, it's almost routine at this point, so is it any more risky than someone who will probably get it done a few years from now?

Talent w/ Tommy John vs Considerably less talent without (yet) ....... which is really more risky?

For example....wouldn't it be more risky to take the same player, in an alternate universe where he did not need Tommy John, in the third round (where you spend more of your allotment and there is higher-end talent available)?

In terms of financial risk (well, there really isn't any).....no fan should care.

Correct... this happens quite a bit now.

 

Lucas Giolito was still a 1st round pick out of high school after having TJ.

 

Brady Aiken had TJ before the draft, knowing he wasn't going to pitch for a year. Cleveland took him in the 1st round. 

 

 

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ashburyjohn
Oct 14 2016 02:07 PM

I agree it's a reasonable risk on an 11th-rounder. But it's still a risk, in the sense of "there are known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns." This guy has a known known, the injury, and a known unknown, namely whether he will bounce back from his surgery. Not all pitchers do.

 

Even the attitude that "well, every pitcher gets surgery eventually, so get it out of the way" is to me questionable. A second TJ surgery has less to work with than the first, as I understand it. (I'd better go and re-read Jeff Passan's The Arm now. ;) ) That makes for a bigger risk later on in his career.

 

Again, our consensus seems to be it's completely acceptable in the 11th round. But, by definition, it means that no other team saw it as the right decision in the 10th round. That makes it a debatable topic.

 

 

Again, our consensus seems to be it's completely acceptable in the 11th round. But, by definition, it means that no other team saw it as the right decision in the 10th round. That makes it a debatable topic.

 

I understand what you're saying, but with the draft, it's different. Because of the slotting of the first ten rounds, teams often strategize in the 7-10 rounds, senior signs, etc. That's one possibility. 

 

Another possibility is that the Twins were the one team willing to pay 3rd round money. They obviously really liked him to go over slot by 4x. I really like this signing for upside. Fits the strategy in drafting Kirilloff, Rortvedt, Miranda, Bolazovic and Benninghoff. Upside!

    • twinssouth likes this
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ashburyjohn
Oct 14 2016 07:03 PM

Another possibility is that the Twins were the one team willing to pay 3rd round money.

I guess that's one way of defining the risk the Twins were willing to take on. Maybe they were uniquely positioned to do so.

I'd love to see someone crunch the numbers of the kids who throw curveballs vs. sliders out of high school vs. their rates of TJ.And also the age they started throwing that curve vs TJ rates.

 

I would bet that there is a definite correlation...

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operation mindcrime
Oct 15 2016 02:53 PM
I wish him the best of luck and hope he makes it to the bigs! :)

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