|Joe Benson during spring training this year, when he|
was one of three contenders for the Twins center field job.
And some of them, a lot of them, never make it.
That Joe Benson was a highly regarded prospect is obvious; he was the Twins second-round draft pick in 2006 (Chris Parmelee was their first-rounder), and he twice cracked Baseball America's Top 100 prospects, albeit barely (No. 100 in 2011, No. 99 in 2012).
After his September 2011 callup, it seemed just a matter of time before he became a fixture in the Twins outfield.
Last weekend, the Twins needed a spot on the 40-man roster so they could activate P.J. Walters to make Saturday's start. They got that spot by waiving Benson, who was claimed by the Texas Rangers.
Benson almost cleared waivers; Texas was the next-to-last team in the progression. Only St. Louis didn't have the opportunity to claim Benson.
Benson's 25 now, and he still possesses the athletic gifts that made him a high draft pick. But he's made almost no progress in the last couple seasons turning his speed and strength into usable baseball skills.
He left Rochester, the Twins' Triple A affiliate, with a slash line of .192/.256/.285; this follows an injury-plagued 2011 in which he combined at four levels for .202/.288/.336. This season he had 10 walks and 51 strikeouts in 165 plate appearances.
The Rangers shipped him down a level, to the Double A Frisco Roughriders of the Texas League, and he hit a home run Sunday in his first game there. He also struck out once.
He's still young enough to find the ballplayer in the talent. But he has a long way to go, and it was increasingly obvious that it wasn't going to happen with the Twins. I don't blame them for pulling the plug.