Hendriks, Parmelee, Benson Debut

7 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Tuesday night, the Twins lost to the White Sox 3-0. For me, it was as excited as I have been to watch a Twins game in a long time! It was great to watch the debuts of Liam Hendriks, Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee. It came one day after reliever Kyle Waldrop made his debut.

Waldrop gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. Hendriks was impressive in his start on Tuesday night. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings. He showed a good fastball, good control, good changeup, and a very good slow curveball. Joe Benson walked in his first plate appearance before going 0-3 in his other at bats. Chris Parmelee had two hits off of Jake Peavy in the game.

Last spring, I released my third Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It think it’s fair to say that due to all of the players who have made their way to the Twins this season, the prospect handbook is a must-have for Twins fans. You can order a book here. As a little incentive, here is what I wrote about those four players who have made their debuts with the Twins in the last couple of games. These are their player profiles (plus Brian Dinkelman’s), but since Benson was the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year last year, I also have an interview with him in the book. Also, Josh Johnson wrote a great article on Chris Parmelee called “In the Right Direction.” Josh wrote the profiles for Parmelee and Waldrop that you will see below.

And, while you’re reading this, be sure to check out last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. I was joined by New Britain Rock Cats outfielder and Minnesota native Mark Dolenc. We talked about his career, the Rock Cats season, minor league life, and some of the prospects that we are starting to see with the Twins.

Joe Benson – OF– (3/5/88)

Acquired: 2nd round draft pick in 2006 from HS in Illinois

2010 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats

2010 Stats: .259/.343/.538, 31-2B, 8-3B, 27 HR, 62 RBI, 19 SB

There has never been any question about the tools of Joe Benson. In 2010, Benson broke out with a season in which the skills started to catch up to the tools. It didn’t start out well for him though. He started the season in Double-A New Britain and hit just .169 in April. Despite hitting .283/.411/.609 in 56 May plate appearances, he was striking out 32% of the time, and on May 17, he was demoted to Ft. Myers. He spent a month with the Miracle, working with Jim Dwyer. In 21 games, he hit .294/.375/.588 with 11 double and four home runs and was promoted to New Britain on June 15. In 70 June plate appearances, he hit .292/.343/.646 with five home runs. He followed that up with seven home runs in July and six more in his final 100 plate appearances. His strikeout rate dropped from 30% in July to 24% in August to 18% in September. In total, he led the organization with 27 home runs and drove in 81 runs. Along with the power, Benson improved his speed in 2010. He stole 19 bases, but base stealing remains an area for improvement as he was thrown out nine times too. Offensively, his contract rate will be the area where he will need to find some improvement. He has power. He has speed. He has an ability to draw walks. Defensively, he has the speed to play in centerfield. He has plenty of arm strength to play right field. Just as important, he is a natural in the outfield and gets great reads.

Following the season, Benson was invited to play for the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He was also named the recipient of the Sherry Robertson Award as the Twins top minor league hitter. Finally, in November, the Twins added him to the 40 man roster. Benson is a very hard worker and one of the more competitive ball players that you will find.

Brian Dinkelman – OF – (11/10/83)

Acquired: 8th round pick in 2006 from McKendree College

2010 Team(s): Rochester Red Wings

2010 Stats: .265/.336/.379, 32-2B, 2-3B, 8 HR, 54 RBI

Dinkelman is one of the best hitters to ever play in the NAIA level of collegiate baseball. Drafted as a second baseman, he moved to the outfield for the second half of the 2009 season, when Steve Singleton moved up to New Britain. Dinkelman spent the entire 2010 season in Rochester, his first year with the Red Wings. He played 64 games in left field, 46 games in right field, and 25 games at second base. Defensively, he makes the plays that he gets to, but he has very little range. With the bat, Dinkelman takes good, quality at bats. He has a good eye and generally makes contact, although his 99 strikeouts in 2010 were a career high by a long ways. Although he is not as athletic as many players, he is respected for his style of play. He is the definition of a “gamer”, diving all over the outfield, and playing with maximum effort. Expect to see Dinkelman back in Rochester in 2011, and to put up much better numbers if he is given regular playing time. If he can play well, he could get a cup of coffee with the Twins.

Liam Hendriks – RHP – (2/10/89)

Acquired: Signed as F/A in Feb. 2007 from Australia

2010 Team(s): Beloit Snappers, Ft. Myers

2010 Stats: 8-4, 1.74 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 108.2 IP, 12 BB, 105 K

Hendriks was well on his way to being the Twins minor league pitcher of the year until an emergency appendectomy abruptly cost him six weeks out of his season. He had just been named as a participant in the Futures Game in Anaheim, representing the Twins and Australia for the World team. He has been representing Australia in international competition for several years including in the World Baseball Classic and the World Cup.

Hendriks began the 2010 season where he ended the 2009 season, in Beloit with the Snappers. After making 11 starts in 2009, he needed just six more starts in 2010 to earn his promotion to Ft. Myers. In those six starts, he got little run support and went 2-1 with a 1.32 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP. In 34 innings, he gave up just 16 hits, walked four and struck out 39. When he got to Ft. Myers, he barely missed a step. In 13 starts, he went 6-3 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. In 74.2 innings, he gave up 63 hits, walked eight and struck out 66. When he came back from the appendectomy, he had a 2.2 innings outing, then he ended the season by throwing four shutout innings against St. Lucie and five shutout innings against Palm Beach. In those two outings, he gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out 12.

Hendriks clearly is a control pitcher, but he does so without being hittable, and he does a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the ballpark (2 home runs in 108.2 innings). There are few pitchers that are smarter than Hendriks on the mound. He just knows how to pitch. He has pinpoint control and does a great job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone. He has control of four quality pitches and throws each of them at different speeds. He has a four-seam fastball the can touch 93 mph. He also has a two-seam fastball that has very good movement. He has started using his changeup more. At times, he throws too many strikes. He is a great athlete and fields his position well. He is also incredibly competitive. If he is able to stay healthy, he has a chance to be a very good Major League pitcher.

Chris Parmelee – OF/1B – (2/24/88)

Acquired: 1st round pick in 2006 from HS in California

2010 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats

2010 Stats: .285/.356/.401, 27-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 56 RBI

Classified as an all or nothing hitter, Parmelee has put up big power numbers throughout his five years in the organization. Coming into 2010, Parmelee hit 53 home runs in 376 Minor League games. Unfortunately, big power numbers meant a lot of strikeouts. In that same period, Parmelee amassed 385 strikeouts. Because of these numbers, Parmelee began drawing comparisons to White Sox slugger Adam Dunn.

Following back-to-back seasons in Beloit, Parmelee made the jump to Ft. Myers in 2009. He hit .258/.359/.441 with 44 extra-base hits (including 16 home runs) in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Florida State League. Parmelee also had a career high 65 walks in the 422 at-bats he had that season. Parmelee arrived in New Britain in 2010 and hit just .186/.241/.333 in his first 102 at-bats. His poor numbers resulted in him getting demoted back to Ft. Myers. What could have been a bad situation for a very talented player may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He played in just 22 games with the Miracle, but his .338/.440/.463 hitting line was good enough for him to be promoted back to New Britain. From that point forward, Parmelee went on a tear. From June 10 to the end of the season, the left-hander hit .304/.373/.408 with 24 extra-base hits and a 37/41 BB/K ratio. Parmelee carried his momentum into the off-season and hit .339/.405/.477 in 29 in the Arizona Fall League. The Twins needed to make a decision on whether or not to add him to the 40-man roster, but his improvements and production made it an easy on.

Although he’s been known for his power, Parmelee’s on-base skills are also very impressive. He has a .352 on-base percentage throughout his career, thanks in part to his 247 career walks. After hitting so many home runs in his first four seasons, his eight 2010 home runs made people alarmed that he was experiencing a “power outage.” But expect his power numbers to climb back up in 2011. Since being drafted, the 6-foot-1, 220 pound Parmelee has split time between first base and the corner outfield positions. Although he is not a great defender, Parmelee has remained steady at each position he plays. His arm is both strong and accurate, which is why he does spend a good amount of time in the outfield. He continues to work hard on his defense and hopes to improve in that area in 2011. (JJ)

For more on Parmelee, see the “In the Right Direction” article by Josh Johnson later in this book.

Kyle Waldrop – RHP – (10/27/85)

Acquired: 1st round pick in 2004 from HS in Tennessee

2010 Team(s): Rochester Red Wings

2010 Stats: 5-3, 2 Saves, 2.57 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 87.2 IP, 20 BB, 60 K

Waldrop was the Twins’ third first-round draft choice in 2004 out of Knoxville, Tennessee. He wrapped up his high school career with a 14-0 record and 0.15 ERA in 14 starts for Farragut High School. He began his career as a starting pitcher, amassing 25 wins over his first three seasons, but after shoulder surgery whipped out his entire 2008 season, Waldrop has returned to the mound in a reliever role.

In 2009, he had a 2.08 ERA in 51 appearances between Ft. Myers and New Britain. The Twins felt comfortable enough in his progress to move him up to Rochester for the start of the 2010 season. He got off to a great start, hoisting a 1.01 ERA over the first three months. He then struggled in July and August, but still finished the year with a 2.57 ERA. He was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League, but he struggled in eight of his 10 appearances for the Peoria Saguaros. Waldrop has a nice 6-foot-4, 205 pound frame, but he doesn’t throw particularly hard. He has a sinking fastball that sits in the high-80’s, low-90’s and accompanies that with a slider and change-up. He is a hard worker and a good fielder who should get his first crack at the Major Leagues in 2011 if all goes well. (JJ)

Again, you can pick up the 2011 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook here. I will soon begin work on the 2012 Handbook. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the Comments section.


5 Responses to “Hendriks, Parmelee, Benson Debut”

  1. benji September 7, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Who says the minor league season is over? Did you see that lineup last night? Almost exclusively minor leaguers, it was awesome! I’ve been following these guys for years and it was really cool to get to see them play. Here’s to the youth movement of September!

  2. gobbledy September 7, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Logic would seem to say that they go young next yr, use the young guys that may have a chance weed the players that can’t out as they go. they don’t have one starter that can be penciled in as a sure thing next yr. one relief pitcher in perkins and can he repeat? mauer, span and morneau all have question marks going into next yr. i don’t think you can point to one player and say he will be above average next yr and be sure about it. the draft will be very expensive next summer so will they keep the same payroll or scale it back to allow for that? imo, we can look for payroll in the 90’s and not in the 100’s. it might hurt for a couple years but i’d rather that than see a bunch of below average guys stumble around and pretend that they can compete. the free agent market is not strong and who would they trade? i still think they trade valencia to the rockies for huston street, bill smith move for sure! it would make gardy happy and we’d have that “proven closer” we love.

  3. roger September 7, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Loved Hendriks last night Seth. Had Benson not dove for that one ball, he would have allowed two runs…no that is one great start! What I saw last night reminded me so much of a young Brad Radke. I think that is what Hendriks can become. Not a true Ace in the sense of Halladay or Sabbathia, but certainly a pitcher you can build a staff around.

    Loved the way Benson went into second base. Also saw more from Parmelee than I expected. I think both should begin next year back at Rochester, but when Morneau/Span gets their next concussion, I think the Twins will be comfortable bringing either up. I really want to see both of these guys play alot this month!

  4. ricky September 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    it was pretty cool last night to see those guys debut.. ive been following the minors since the twins drafted parmelee and benson and its cool to see them finally come up. hopefully these guys can have good productive mlb careers!

  5. Han Joelo September 7, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I felt the same way–the most excited I’ve been for a Twins game in a while. Thanks to you and Roger for stoking my enthusiasm, and more importantly, optimism for the minor leaguers. They are just young people figuring things out, and I am pulling for them. I wish New Britain would’ve made and won the playoffs, but I think it may be more important for everyone to have these guys on the Major League roster. I know none of the three are premium “blue chippers,” but they all have a chance to be pretty productive players, and I think Benson still has a 20% chance (or more) or being a late blooming star. And Hendriks does have that Radke like quality.

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