The Toronto Blue Jays have shown once again that it doesn’t have to be a blockbuster deal to raise some eyebrows.
With the game's global reach, Major League Baseball teams know no limit to where they can find talent, and according to the American Association, the Jays have signed Laredo Lemurs closer Mike Benacka. The deal comes a week after the Jays signed Quebec Capitales lefty specialist Tony Davis.
Benacka, 30, has spent the majority of his professional career in the Oakland A’s organization (2008-2011). Over the course of his six professional seasons, three of which were in Independent ball, Benacka has appeared in over 240 games and saved 56, including 12 as the Lemurs' closer. His ERA sits at an even 3.00, and his overall record is 22-13.
But the pièce de résistance: 12.3 SO/9, including 15.7 SO/9 while in Laredo this year. (Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference).
While playing for the York Revolution and Lemurs in 2012, Benacka appeared in 49 games and recorded 13 saves. He surrendered only 36 hits in 59 innings and struck out an eye-popping 98 batters.
More than likely, he will begin the season in Double-A. Whether or not he makes it to Toronto is another story.
With the superb pitching staff and bullpen the Jays have, it’s going to be a tough nut to crack, but every appearance will be an audition. And if Benacka pitches like he did in Laredo, it won’t just be the Jays looking to use his services.
The Jays have now signed two Independent pitchers in the last two weeks and they—and other major league teams—may not be done. The American Association has reported that Benacka was the fourth Laredo player signed by a Major League organization this year, along with Chris Murrill to Tampa Bay and Chaz Roe and Matt Way to Arizona.
Devon is a manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario, Canada, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow the GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.