Get to Know: Joe Benson

18 Aug

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First things first… I will be on KFAN, on The Paul Allen Show at 9:55 this morning to talk about the Twins. You can find it online at, on its many affiliates, and please remember, that KFAN is now on 100.3 FM in the Twin Cities. So, tune in if you are able, or download the podcast later.

The Twins should be calling up Joe Benson today. There are many reasons. I’m sure the Twins brass was considering whether to call him up in September anyway. But right now, the Twins need an outfielder. Obviously Delmon Young was traded earlier this week. Jason Repko is on the Disabled List. We know that Luke Hughes is coming up today and that either Michael Cuddyer or Denard Span will be going on the Disabled List. The fact that they’re not sure which one tells me that neither of them will be available tonight. Jason Kubel will be unavailable at least for tonight due to some family reasons. Matt Tolbert can’t swing a bat, so he isn’t really even an outfield option. So, if my calculations are correct, tonight against CC Sabathia, the Twins three outfield options are Ben Revere, Rene Tosoni and Trevor Plouffe with no fourth outfielder available. Two of them are left-handed, so good luck against CC!

Why Joe Benson and not someone at AAA like Brian Dinkelman, Dustin Martin, Brandon Roberts or Jeff Bailey? Those guys are not on the Twins 40 man roster. Joe Benson was one of four players added to the 40 man roster after last season. Last night for New Britain, Benson went 2-5 with two home runs and six RBI. So, here are some things you should know about Joe Benson:


  • Twins 2nd round pick in 2006 out of Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, Illinois.
  • By signing with the Twins, he gave up a scholarship to play football (RB) at Purdue.
  • Former NFL great Mike Alstott went to the same high school as Benson.
  • Benson was the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2010 when he hit .259/.343/.538 with 31 doubles, eight triples and 27 home runs between AA New Britain and Hi-A Ft. Myers.  (23 of the home runs were in AA)
  • This year with the Rock Cats, he is hitting .283/.379/.489 with 25 doubles, two triples and 13 home runs.
  • He missed a little more than a month of the season when he had his knee scoped.
  • At 6-1 and 210 pounds, he is very strong. However, he is probably the second fastest player in the Twins organization behind only Ben Revere.
  • He is a terrific outfielder, capable of playing all three positions. He has the speed for centerfield and the arm for a right fielder.
  • He is a season ticket holder of the Chicago Bears. “Bear Down!”
  • He has done Football Picks here at for several years.
  • He is 23 years old.
  • He is very intense and competitive. This is primarily a positive thing, but can have its negative moments.
  • His strikeout rate was something that he and the Twins needed to watch this year. Last year in New Britain, he struck out 115 times in 423 plate appearances (1 K every 3.68 PA). This year with the Rock Cats, he has 92 strikeouts in 378 plate appearances (1 K every 4.11 PA).  

I haven’t heard yet if Benson will be promoted. I’m sure we won’t know more until early this afternoon. But I think it is exciting when young players, especially those that are such highly regarded prospects, get an opportunity. Calling him up from AA is not an indication that he is ready for the big leagues, so fans need to have their expectations tempered. He will most likely start the 2012 season in Rochester and that would be the right thing. But for a short-term fix and just to see where he is at, this would be a good thing.

Any thoughts?? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.


17 Responses to “Get to Know: Joe Benson”

  1. Han Joelo August 18, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Seth, weird coincidence. I spent half a day yesterday researching stats on a bunch of Twins outfielders, past and present, with my main thought being Benson is either underrated (slightly) or Hicks is overrated (slightly) or that I just value prospects differently. But I think Benson is about ready. He may not hit for a great average, but his power and speed make up for that.

    His minor league career OPS of .794 (maybe bumped up a tick after last night!) is third (of the guys I checked) behind Kirby Puckett and Angel Morales.

    Puckett, Hunter, and Span all got a couple cups of coffee at AAA when they were 24 and then got called up, so his ETA is May 2012 for sure.

  2. Jay Sherman August 18, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    This would be an excellent opportunity to get his feet wet in a non pressure situation. It can only help him to be better next year. Call him up!

  3. Ben August 18, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Han, I’ve been doing the same thing for the past month and a half and came to the same conclusion. He may not be a star but represented an immediate upgrade over Young and likely Revere as well. That power and speed combo we haven’t had since Hunter left. I’m really hoping he gets the call so I can watch him play entire games rather than highlights on youtube.

    I asked on numerous occasions why Hicks was universally rated higher than Benson when the hope was that Hicks would eventually do what Benson had already done. Hicks only belongs above Benson, as far as I can tell by looking at the numbers, on a best case scenario hopes and wishes prospect list. The two sound comparable from written scouting reports. Both are great athletes with strikeout problems. Hicks draws more walks while Benson gets more extra-base hits. Benson did much better at 21 in Ft Myers than Hicks has done. Benson then went on to improve over the next 2 seasons. This was taken as bashing of Hicks but that was not the point of what I was saying. Just that it’s strange to rank Hicks over Benson given these numbers, but every list I’ve seen had it that way. I figured there was something obvious that I was missing by just looking at the numbers having never seen either of them actually play. Never could get any answer to the question.

    Great job on the radio Seth

    • Han Joelo August 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      I got started on this because of Seth’s last prospect ranking poll–taken before Sano got on a tear, and Gibson had a tear…I was surprised that more people didn’t vote for Arcia. He’s got the numbers and for a team that doesn’t always promote quickly, the move up to Ft. Myers said alot.

      I agree that Hicks seems to have the upside of a superstar, but my research didn’t exactly unearth a lot of favorable comps. Most of the high draft pick type guys were demolishing AAA or in the bigs at age 21. Denard Span proved to be a more favorable comp. Benson compares as a better version of Torii Hunter at this stage–not an Eric Davis or Ken Griffey Jr. or even a Jay Bruce, but similar (better) numbers at similar ages and similar levels. So would you rather have Torrii Hunter in CF or Denard Span with a better arm?

      The only encouraging comp I could find was Carlos Beltran. At age 21, he had a lackluster 200 PA’s at A+, got promoted anyway and proceeded to tear up AA (+1.000 ops.) He was out the next year but in KC the year after. I’m still hopeful of this with Hicks, but his clock is ticking.

      Given the plethora of good/great outfielders in the system, I would say to Hicks, that if you want the quickest route to the big leagues, give up hitting and go back to the mound. Otherwise, I say trade him in the offseason in a package for an ace-type pitcher.

  4. mike wants wins August 18, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    You really thinkt he Twins will do that? It would be way out of character for them. I would do it, but I don’t think they will.

  5. mike wants wins August 18, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Oh, and this is why I’ve been saying he should be in Rochester right now, so they don’t have to say “well, he’s only in AA, we should promote a AAA player instead”…..

  6. Greg August 18, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Makes sense yet have to agree they would end uip bringing someone from AAA. Its also high time, the trainers go, way to many injuries aor fluke injuires for these Major league players to have happen.

    Any interest in the Tommy John recovery power arms released by Diamondbacks or Orioles?

  7. rghrbek August 18, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Seth, don’t always agree with you but you are right on with this call. However, the Twins won’t make this move. Benson should project to be a much better player than Revere. Let’s hope they give him his cup of coffee

  8. Shane Wahl August 18, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I hope you are right with this. I have to say that I am rather tired of Luke Hughes and even Plouffe at this point. Add Matt Tolbert and Jason Repko to that list and there is room for much of NB to come up for a look (Benson, Parmelee, Dozier, Solarte)

  9. James M. August 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    The best argument for Benson is that they really don’t have anybody else. Here are the OPS for JB and his AAA rivals.

    Benson 868

    Bailey 819
    Martin 770
    Roberts 668
    Dinkelman 643

    Only Bailey is within 90 points of Benson, which should be more than enough to offset the difference between AA and AAA. And Bailey is listed as a first baseman, not an outfielder. To put that mediocrity in perspective, Plouffe had a 1019 OPS while he was at Rochester. And you’re getting tired of him!

    • Gary J August 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      how can u compare them??? theyre at 2 different levels…different pitchers….different levels …different level of talent …u cant compare

  10. Keli August 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    How can you say that the Twins would never do something like that, when THAT is exactly what they did last year with Ben Revere? They also did it with Torii Hunter in 1997, although he didn’t get to play much. Mientkiewicz and Mauer never spent any time in AAA before making the Big Show either. For pitchers, both Brad Radke or Eddie Guardado were promoted from AA. There are probably others that someone else remembers.

    I understand that the organization is very conservative with minor league promotions, but they do have a significant history of promoting players from AA for cups of coffee or permanently.

    • mike wants wins August 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

      excellent examples. Let’s hope you are correct.

      • Keli August 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

        If not now… hopefully in September!

  11. mike wants wins August 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Holy cow, Mauer in RF.

  12. Ben August 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Hey, whatever it takes to keep Butera in the line-up.

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