Once considered one of the Minnesota Twins’ most promising prospects, Joe Benson’s career may have hit a major crossroads.
Benson, who got off to a terrible start in spring training before showing late signs of life, was sent to Triple-A Rochester on Friday along with left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
Benson continued to struggle with his swing throughout spring training, and the Twins simply couldn’t justify keeping him in the majors after his poor performance. Over his 18 spring training games in 2013, Benson hit .151 with one HR and three RBIs in 53 at bats. He garnered a meager eight hits over those 53 at bats and struck out 15 times.
Is this a death sentence for Benson’s career? I’d say no at this point, but signs are definitely not looking good for the once-promising outfielder. Simply put, Benson needs to learn how to hit and harness his athleticism that made him such a touted prospect at one point.
I am not sure if it is a mental thing with Benson or if he simply cannot adjust to big league pitching, but something needs to click for Benson soon. If it doesn’t, he may find himself out of baseball all together in a short amount of time.
Aaron Hicks and Darin Mastroianni both figure to open the season with the big league club, with Hicks holding the edge over Mastroianni for the starting job in center field. The player who loses out in that competition will be kept on as a fourth outfielder, leaving no room for a player like Benson to fit in off the bench.
It has been documented in sports that a player’s psyche directly affects their ability to perform. The mindset of an athlete can be radically altered one way or another based on the type of trauma or success they endure during their athletic career.
Benson hasn’t had a catastrophic error or event happen to him that would significantly alter his career by any means, but he may be pressing a little much in an attempt to regain his form and live up to the high expectations that were placed upon him.
While his mindset may be a contributing factor for Benson’s rapid decline, he simply has to get past it and move forward. We know injuries set him back in his development last season, but that should all be left in the past.
Benson will still get plenty of opportunities to prove himself this year and if he can bounce back and continue his recent improved play in Triple-A, he could put himself in a good position to get promoted if the Twins are in need of an outfielder at any point. It is all up to Benson, at this point, to determine how his career will continue.
I hope it turns around for him, and I think a return to Triple-A was the best option for Benson’s future. There, he will have the opportunity to play every day and work out whatever he needs to without the pressure to perform like there would be in the majors.
It may be a step back for Benson’s career, but sometimes you must take one step back before you can take two steps forward.