Twins #8 Overall Prospect Joe Benson Profile

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By Paul M. Banks, Andy Weise, Soxman

Baseball America ranks Joe Benson as the #8 overall prospects in the Minnesota farm system. Before I get to my exclusive interview with him, here’s what Baseball America, Andy Weise and the Soxman had to say about these potential future “Piranhas”
“Minnesota focused on position players in a draft notable for its pitchers. However, in prep outfielders Chris Parmelee (first round, the fifth time in six years the Twins spent their top pick on a high school hitter) and Joe Benson (second), they may have found two more impact bats for a few years down the road. By then, their new ballpark should be ready. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the stadium took years of political wrangling before billionaire owner Carl Pohlad and the state could agree on a plan. The park secures the club’s future in the Twin Cities.” –Baseball America

Benson is still a raw prospect but has all the tools to materialize into a quality outfielder for the Twins.  The Hinsdale, IL native is a graduate of Joliet Catholic High School and was selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2006 MLB draft.  He projects to be an on-base outfielder with slightly below average power and above average speed.  Despite 17 stolen bases this season, he only has 24 walks and a .709 OPS.  His MLB ETA is likely 2011 or later.

–The Soxman

Both guys were picked in 2006, Parmelee going in the first round and Benson in the second. Parmelee is one of the most well known prospects in the Twins organization. There aren’t a lot of “power hitters” in the Twins farm system. I think from top to bottom this organization loves the speed and “small ball” game. Parmelee hit 15 homeruns last year in class A but he hit just .239. The batting average has to come up if he ever wants to make it to the majors. Currently, he has 14 homers but is batting about the same.
 
Benson’s power hasn’t been as evident as Parmelee’s this season, but he’s hitting a bit higher at .248. Benson is going to have to pick it up because there’s another guy on his team who is dominating right now, Ben Revere, the 2007 first round pick. Revere is batting nearly .400. Both Parmelee and Benson still have good chances to make it to the big leagues because they’re only a couple years out of high school, but they have to get their batting averages way up.

–Andy Weise

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PMB: So this is sort of a homecoming for you….

JB: I was born in Hinsdale. I grew up in Joliet.  

 PMB: Did you have a lot of family and friends today?

JB: Yeah, pretty much this whole weekend. I had people come in and out, come watch me. Today I had neighbors, neighbors I grew up with, some family, friends from the area. 

Nice to be able to play in the minor leagues, especially with teams all over the place close to home.  So family and friends can come out and see me. It’s not often you get the opportunity to play in front of your friends. They can get to see me because it’s never on tv. Coming back here is always nice. People do come out to support me, cheer me on, good to see them after the game.
 
PMB: You’ve been rated the “Best Athlete” in the Twins organization by Baseball America. What are some other main strengths in your game?

JB: Right now my strengths: my defense in the outfield. My arm is average for most outfielders, nothing spectacular.  I really need to work on my hitting. That’s probably my weakest tool right now. I play pretty good outfield. I need to hit to progress and move up.

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PMB: What little things do you need to improve upon in order to reach the show?

JB: Little bit of everything. Cut down on strikeouts, beat out some groundballs, get some extra hits. That’ll raise the average. I have to swing at the pitches I want to hit. So I get myself behind in the count, hopefully my power numbers will move up a little bit.

PMB: Great athletic catch in the 3rd Inning…
JB: He threw a fast ball, inside half, kid turned on it a little bit, sent it off left center. I was going to try and beat the ball, but I knew it was against the fence. Once I felt the warning track, I took a couple of steps, jumped and caught it.

PMB: Is there a person in the Twins organization that you look up to?

JB: Kirby Puckett. I watched him, some of his highlights, how he played the game when the Twins won the World Series. I’d like to become a leader like that.

PMB: Torii Hunter?
JB: He’s a great person. I met him a couple of spring trainings ago. He’s a complete professional, great defensive player. I’d love to be like him some day, get to play center field for the Twins, but we’ll see.

PMB: Your favorite player growing up as a kid?

JB: The One Dog Lance Johnson. I’m a big fan of his.

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