Athletic slugging outfielder Will Benson is our No. 19 Cleveland Indians prospect, dropping from No. 11 last year after a season where he finished below the Mendoza line.
If you only look at the numbers, Benson’s 2018 season was pretty good. In his first taste of full season ball, he hit a career high 22 home runs, good for first place in the Midwest League. Benson also was third in the league in walks with 82, improving his walk-rate to a career-best 16.2 percent. He also stole 12 bases, although he was caught six times.
Benson was named a mid-season All-Star and also finished the season strong by earning a Player of the Week award in the final week of the season after he had a stretch of three games where he blasted four home runs and knocked in 10 runs.
While Benson struck out 30 percent of the time, that was actually an improvement, setting another career best mark by dropping from 33.9 percent in 2017 when he was in Low-A.
So why are people still down on Benson?
It’s because he had a horrible time making consistent contact at the plate. Benson suffered from a horrific .218 BABIP in 2018, which, combined with his strikeouts, led to a batting average of .180.
A 2016 first round draft pick, Benson is a physical specimen standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 225 pounds, but he needs to improve his ability to make consistent contact. He was unlucky with his BABIP, but scouting reports say he needs to improve his pitch selection for when he swings as well.
It’s far too early to give up on Benson, considering his overall statistical improvement, his physical tools and the fact that he has a tremendous make-up, work ethic and attitude. He’s still just 20 years old and could be starting the 2019 season in High-A Lynchburg depending on whether or not the Tribe brass feels he’s ready.
WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 19 PROSPECT FOR 2019?
Raynel Delgado, 3B (Age 18)
2018 (R): 204 PA, .306/.409/.382, 1 HR, 10 SB, 14.7 BB%, 21.6 K%, 133 wRC+
2018 sixth round pick the Indians paid $664,400 over slot to sign. Delgado held his own in his professional debut, putting up strong numbers and showing great patience at the plate in the AZL.
Eric Haase, C (Age 26)
2018 (AAA): 477 PA, .236/.288/.443, 20 HR, 3 SB, 6.5 BB%, 30.0 K%, 102 wRC+
Had some difficulty adjusting to his first full season at Triple-A but still managed to hit 20 home runs for the third year in a row. Was named the top defensive player in the Indians system by MLB Pipeline after throwing out 48.5 percent of basestealers.
Eli Morgan, RHP (Age 22)
2018 (A): 8 GS, 44.1 IP, 32.9 K%, 4.7 BB%, 1.83 ERA, 2.22 FIP
2018 (A+): 19 GS, 99.0 IP, 24.0 K%, 6.2 BB%, 3.91 ERA, 3.75 FIP
Gonzaga alum drafted in eighth round of 2017 doesn’t have elite velocity or size, but makes up for it with stellar command and the best change-up in the Tribe system, which helps spike his strikeout rate.
Gabriel Rodriguez (Age 16)
2018: did not play
Top Indians international signing of 2018 out of Venezuela, signed for $2.2 million. Standing 6-foot-2, he was the sixth highest-rated international prospect by MLB Pipeline. Should skip DSL and debut in AZL in 2019.
Carlos Vargas, RHP (Age 19)
2018 (R): 9 GS, 34.1 IP, 26.6 K%, 15.6 BB%, 3.93 ERA, 4.54 FIP
Signed in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic, Vargas was already hitting 100 mph in his professional debut last season for the AZL Indians. Many feel he could be the 2019 version of Luis Oviedo with his breakout potential.
Johnathan Rodriguez, OF (Age 19)
2018 (A): 211 PA, .294/.370/.406, 1 HR, 8 SB, 10.4 BB%, 20.9 K%, 122 wRC+
Repeating in Arizona, the 2017 third round pick improved his power, his batting average and his baserunning. More power projected as he continues growing into his 6-foot-3 frame as one of younger players in his draft class.
Aaron Bracho, SS (Age 17)
2018: did not play
Top Indians international signing of 2017 out of Venezuela, signed for $1.5 million, more than Rocchio or Valera. Missed the 2018 season after suffering an arm injury in spring training but expected to debut in Arizona this year.
Who should be the No. 20 Indians prospect?
168 votes total