Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 205 lb.
Joe Benson was a two-sport high school athlete. Attending Joliet Catholic Academy in Illinois, football recruitment began as early as his sophomore year. A long summer of baseball following his junior year saw him choosing to pursue baseball instead of football, and he ended up signing a letter of intent to play baseball for Purdue. (1)However, when the Twins selected him in the second round of the 2006 Rule IV draft on June 6, Benson wasted no time. He signed with the Twins on June 10th, receiving a $575,000 signing bonus.(2)
Benson debuted with Minnesota's Rookie League affiliate, the Elizabethton Twins, on June 20, 2006 against the Billings Mustangs. The game saw him collect his first professional hit, a single, as well as his first walk, run-batted-in, stolen base, and strikeout. His first multi-hit game and extra-base hit would come the following day, with his first home run coming on July 10. Benson stayed with Elizabethton for most of the 2006 season, enjoying good success in that first professional season with a .260/.335/.444 triple-slash line. At the end of the year, he was promoted to the Beloit Snappers, receiving a paltry 19 plate appearances in Low-A ball before the season ended.(3)
As a high school draftee, Benson followed the same slow development track that so many high school draftees follow. He remained with Beloit for all of 2007 and 2008, though missed the second half of 2008 with a stress fracture in his back. Regardless, Minnesota promoted him to High-A Fort Myers to begin the 2009 season. Joe suffered a hand fracture after punching a wall in early May, causing him to miss almost two months. (2) (4) He finished out the year in High-A, and began 2010 in Double-A.
Benson hit a meager .169 in April of 2010, a slow start to his Double-A career. Although he picked it up in May, Minnesota sent him back down to High-A for 21 games and then promoted him back up to New Britain.(5) He would finish the year there, putting up an impressive triple-slash of .251/.336/.527. Despite this, the Twins had him repeat 2011 in Double-A.
2011 was a mixed bag for Benson. He reduced his K-rate to 23.1% from 27.2% the year before and bumped his walk rate by 2.7%, making more contact and increasing his average. However, his slugging percentage fell 32 points to .495 and he was forced to have meniscus surgery in July, missing a month. (2)
Whether it was his increased patience and contact, his decreased strikeout rate, or his age and the Twins' general woes, Minnesota saw fit to give Joe Benson the call to The Show on September 6, 2011 against the Chicago White Sox. He drew a full count walk in his first plate appearance and collected his first hit against Max Scherzer in Detroit on the 10th. (1) (3)
While Benson's September call-up was hardly impressive, the 74 plate appearances should not be seen as indicative of anything. He is currently listed as a the third overall Twins' prospect by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. (6) The Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota's Triple-A affiliate, are currently enjoying his services. He's well regarded as a plus-defensive outfielder with good range, a great arm, and good power. His strikeout rate remains high, but a supporting walk rate with the power makes it a tolerable flaw.
As of this writing, Benson has 62 accumulated plate appearances in 15 games for the Red Wings. His triple-slash line sits at .180/.323/.240, with all of the usual Small Sample Size Theater warnings applied. (7)
Edited by Jontler, 24 April 2012 - 06:39 AM.