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  • Is it too late for Joe Benson?

    At the end of the 2011 season, Joe Benson had to be flying high. He just completed one of the best seasons of his professional career and he was rewarded by getting a call-up to make his major league debut. There was talk of him fighting for a more permanent role with the club in the future. It looked like the sky was the limit for young Mr. Benson.

    For how great the 2011 season ended, it was hard to imagine how far Benson fell during 2012 campaign.
    He started the year at the Triple-A level and it seemed like one major injury to an outfielder on the big league club would result in him making a return trip to Minnesota. This was far from the case as he fought through major injuries and poor play for most of the year.

    The struggles of Benson meant he ended the year back in New Britain. In 65 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit under .200 and the power promise shown in 2011 was almost completely absent. The front office for the Twins and fans following the minor leagues had to be left shaking their heads. This wasn't the way to follow a breakout season in the higher levels of a farm system.

    Injuries were one of the biggest contributors to his lousy season. He missed time in the middle of the year with a broken hamate bone. Near the end of August an injury to Benson's knee would mean the end of his nightmare season. He would undergo surgery on his knee after going 1-35 at the plate in his last nine games with no extra base hits and 17 strikeouts. Something was clearly wrong with Benson and it was time to shut him down.

    Baseball America has ranked Benson on the very edge of their top 100 prospects in each of the last two years. Prior to the 2012 season, he came in at number 99 and the previous year he sat at number 100. These rankings came after two very good seasons as he worked his way to the major leagues. After last season, there isn't much of a chance for him to finish in the top 100 before next season so he will have plenty to prove to himself and to the organization.

    Preliminary Twins prospect lists for the current offseason have Benson ranked right on the edge of the top 10. Seth Stohs of Twins Daily and myself have Benson ranked at number 10 in both of our lists. John Sickels of Minor League Ball has Benson down to number 12 on his list. To those ranking prospects, Benson's tools continue to stand out; he is a strong defender, he has speed, and he has shown power in the past. Those tools haven't gone away and the hope is for Benson to reemerge next season.

    One of the toughest things for Benson might be the crop of outfielders waiting in the wings for the Twins organization. Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia compiled great numbers last year at Double-A so they should both be waiting in the wings at Rochester in 2013. At this point, each of these players might offer more upside than Benson but Benson has already made his debut and he is older than the other two rising stars. It could be imperative for Benson to get off to a strong start or these other two men could pass him by on the way to the big leagues.

    It's easy to look at Benson's 2012 season and brush off his poor play because of his multiple injuries. A healthy version of Benson could never look as horrible as the player that was on the field last year. He should be able to rebound in 2013 if the injury bug doesn't bite again. He needs to get back on track as soon as possible or Hicks and Arcia could start to take away from his major league playing time. Look for Benson to be on the comeback trail in 2013 but will it be too little, too late?
    This article was originally published in blog: Is it too late for Joe Benson? started by Cody Christie
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      It may be too late. A player always has to worry about performance vs. where you are in the pecking order. If he has a decent (actually, needs to shine) 2013 at AAA, he could be tradebait. He would need a few more days in the major to add some luster. But, how. The Twins have three solid outfielders. Plus they have Parmelee. They have Mastro as backup. They might have Doumit and Hermann on the bench. If Hicks is added to the roster, both him and Arcia could get a call BEFORE Benson. Yet Benson showed no reason to be the 4th/5th bench guy this season and deplace Mastro. It shows the outfield depth the Twins may have that someone like Joe can get lost in the shuffle.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I think the idea of giving up on Joe Benson is absolutely crazy. It'd be like giving up on Gibson or Salcedo at this point. Injury was the primary reason that Benson struggled in 2012. Hamate bone is a big one that is painful and then takes awhile to return from. Then he had the knee injury that when they went in found out it was much more than they expected. The talent is still there and he's still just 25 years old. Just needs to be healthy.

      Now again, the Twins do have outfield depth, and we'll see what Arcia and Hicks do early next year to see if they are legit big league candidates for late in 2013. Benson (and Tosoni) play into that whole equation... I still 100% believe in Benson and that he will be good whether he is with the Twins or elsewhere.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I don't think he'll ever master the strike zone enough to be anything other than a fringe MLer. Hope I'm wrong but he'll be 25 next year and still only has about 50 games above AA (at AAA and ML) and really struggled in those games.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      I still think Benson could be a pretty good player. But, I don't really see him in the Twins' future. If he plays well in the minors, I think he'll be traded. If he continues to struggle and get injured, he will just be released eventually.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      im guessing he will be taken in the rule 5 draft in 2014
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Said it often & still believe he'll be dealt this offseason as I have believed that Mn/more so Terry Ryan isnt as high on him as some of the national people. If true, he will have some value this offseason if teams believe his struggles are due to injuries...not by himself but in a multi player deal for a pitcher
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Really can't trade him for anything right now. The Twins will give him another year to reclaim his status or else they'll remove him from the 40-man and he could potentially latch on somewhere else.

      I think 2013 will be the year that we find out if Benson is more similar to Torii Hunter or Lew Ford.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      Yes
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I'm still pretty high on Benson and think he's about #8. The tools are just too good.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I hope that TR does not trade him while his stock is so low.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Hard to give up on a guy that has as many tools and as much success as Benson. The Twins brought him north with the club last season, so they obviously feel the talent is there. Let the guy play in 2013 and then start to evaluate.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Nate Roberts another 2 hit day in Az. His development, IMO, makes it more likely that a guy like Benson gets dealt in a multi-player deal, as mentioned by Goblin.

      Roberts should skip FM and start 2013 in AA; I think he's already proving he can handle that level.He's more complete in his abilities than anyone that played OF at the end of 2012 in FM.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Skip FM? This is the Twins we are talking about.....and the AFL is a ridiculous hitters league....
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Skip FM? This is the Twins we are talking about.....and the AFL is a ridiculous hitters league....
      Right. That's why I said they SHOULD.

      But won't. Roberts will have to toil a 1/2 season in FM, then to NB for 1 1/2 years, on to Rochester, and debut as a 26 or 27 year old rook in the bigs, if he gets that far.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think the idea of giving up on Joe Benson is absolutely crazy. It'd be like giving up on Gibson or Salcedo at this point. Injury was the primary reason that Benson struggled in 2012. Hamate bone is a big one that is painful and then takes awhile to return from. Then he had the knee injury that when they went in found out it was much more than they expected. The talent is still there and he's still just 25 years old. Just needs to be healthy.
      Seth
      From my memory he was healthy in the beginning of the year in 2012. He did not get injured until after he was sent to AA. So unless my memory is wrong, we can't blame his poor 2012 on injuries. Instead we need to blame his poor play.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      In Minnesota? Yep. Benson better hope for a trade, an injury (or two) or a torrid Feb-Apr to have a chance.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      If he is needed to complete a trade for pitching, I would throw him in. Do not think he will be more than a fringe major leagurer and the Twins have many outfielders coming in the next 3 years. Also agree with the thought that Roberts should start in New Britian.
    1. ALessKosherScott's Avatar
      ALessKosherScott -
      IMO, the biggest problem most people have with with prospects and young players is the tendency to overbuild hope when things are going well, and abandon ship too quickly when the stats go south.

      Benson wasn't a future all-star in 2011. But he's at least got a a valid excuse in a bum wrist for what happened in 2012. At the bare minimum, he has the brand of defense and platoon spilts you like to see in a good fourth outfielder.
    1. E. Andrew's Avatar
      E. Andrew -
      Attachment 2615
      ... so next time a girl asks you "What bone did Joe Benson break?" You can point to it. On her.
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      Really can't trade him for anything right now. The Twins will give him another year to reclaim his status or else they'll remove him from the 40-man and he could potentially latch on somewhere else.

      I think 2013 will be the year that we find out if Benson is more similar to Torii Hunter or Lew Ford.
      I was thinking Chad Allen.
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