Name: Joe Benson
DOB: March 5, 1988
Joe Benson was one of the crown jewels of the Twins 2006 draft class, and had a stellar inaugural season of professional baseball. This terrific athlete made it all the way to the Beloit Snappers by the end of the 2006 season, and should get his first full year of full-season baseball in 2007. By the end of this coming season, Benson could be one of the top-ten prospects in the Twins organization.
The Twins made Benson their second round selection in the 2006 draft, taking the young outfielder out of Joliet (Ill.) High School. Benson was a star baseball and football player for Joliet in High School, and took his athleticism to the Twins in 2006. Blessed with the ability to be a five-tool player, Benson could make a rapid rise through the Twins organization in 2007.
Benson started his professional career as a member of the Gulf Coast League Twins, showing a rare blend of speed and power. Named the 20th best prospect in the GCL by Baseball America, Benson blasted five home runs in his 52 GCL games, while swiping nine bases. Though he batted only .260, 21 of his 51 hits in the GCL were for extra-bases, and he drove in over a run per two games.
The Twins saw enough in Benson to promote him to the Beloit Snappers, as he joined fellow 2006 draft crown jewel Chris Parmelee in the Snappers outfield. In eight Midwest League games, Benson batted .263, swiped a bag, and scored twice. He is likely to open the 2007 season once again in Beloit, and should be one of the better hitters in the league.
The 2006 season was a long one for Benson, who not only played an entire slate of high school games, but also appeared in 60 professional games. With some rest in the off-season, Benson should once again show tremendous pop in his bat, and will likely be in the middle of the Snappers lineup.
Batting and Power: Benson has the potential to be a duel-threat at the plate, meaning he has the ability to hit for both power, and average. He displayed great gap power in 2006, and while he looked a bit run down by the end of the season, Benson should be a guy who hits 20+ doubles a season. He also can jerk one out of the park, and with some added strength, will likely be a 20+ home run guy by the end of his career. Benson struggled with the strikeouts in 2006, but with some seasoning in the Minors, he should develop quite the batting eye.
Base running and Speed. As stated earlier, Benson is a rare blend of power and speed. He could have played collegiate football as a running back, and has the uncanny ability to blaze down to first base. He swiped ten bases in 60 professional games in 2006, and the Twins are going to want to use his speed to its maximum potential. He could develop into the type of player who hits at the top of the order, and who steals over 30 bases a season.
Defense. There is no question that Benson is going to become a great defender, judging by the way he glides to the ball in the outfield. One scout told TwinCitiesDugout.com that Benson has a very high ceiling, and could develop into a plus-defensive outfielder. He has a decent arm, but it would not be ranked as a rocket-type cannon. He'll make all the plays in the outfield, and projects as a corner outfielder in the future.
ETA. 2010. Benson has a very high ceiling, and the Twins are likely to move him slowly through the organization. A former high school catcher, Benson has made a smooth transition to the outfield, and is listed as one of the organizations top athletes. He'll begin the 2007 season back in Low-A Beloit, but could get a taste of Fort Myers before the season is out. He'll move in small increments, but that should benefit the budding superstar in the long run. As he gets older, Benson should develop a better batting eye, and will go from being a raw talent, to a polished hitter. Benson should be a top-15 Twins prospect by the end of the 2007 season.