A second-round draft pick out of an Illinois high school in 2006, Benson has always showcased a projectable blend of power and speed, as well as the ability to play a solid center field.
After moving through the Twins system at a level-per-year pace, the 6’1” outfielder enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2010, as he batted .259/.343/.538 with 27 home runs, 19 stolen bases and 136/47 K/BB in 123 games between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain.
Benson opened the following year (2011) back at Double-A, and, after posting an .883 OPS through 111 games, was called up to the major leagues in early September. Although he batted .239/.270/.352 with seven extra-base hits in 21 games, Benson also posted an ugly 21/3 K/BB.
Assigned to Triple-A Rochester to refine his plate discipline before an inevitable return to the major leagues, 2012 turned out to be a lost season for Benson. After posting a pedestrian .584 OPS through 28 games at Triple-A, the 6’1” outfielder landed on the disabled list with a broken hamate bone.
After two weeks' worth of rehab games in the low minors, Benson ultimately worked his way back to Double-A but managed to bat just .184/.268/.305 with 43/13 K/BB in 37 games.
Therefore, it was only fitting that a knee injury—one that ultimately required surgery—shelved the toolsy outfielder in August for the remainder of the season.
Finally healthy entering his age-25 season, Benson still has an impressive collection of tools that include slightly above-average raw power, good wheels and the defensive chops to stick in the center. And after trading away both Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason, it seems as though the Twins will be exploring internal options at the position for the upcoming season.
As long as he can stay on the field, Benson should get some looks in the Twins outfield throughout the year. However, he’ll be forced to compete with Darin Mastroianni and Aaron Hicks for playing time—both of whom have moved ahead of him on the organization’s depth chart.