Since the double-A New Britain Rock Cats just missed making the playoffs this season, both Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee will be joining the Twins tonight. Both guys are two of the bigger names in the Minnesota farm system, having been considered top prospects for the last couple of seasons. While neither player is considered one of the blue chip or "can't miss" variety of prospect, both players have certain skills that make them more interesting than a few of the more lack luster September callups we've had in recent years.
Player comparisons aren't always the best or most accurate way of looking into the crystal ball to determine a player's future. But they are one of the easiest ways to create some baseline comprehension of what kind of player a guy is. With that caveat, we'll make just a few comps after the jump.
Joe Benson, OF, 23
Drafted: 2nd round, 2006
Pre-2011 prospect rankings: #100 overall (Baseball America), #11 (John Sickels), #6 (Twinkie Town), #6 (Aaron Gleeman), #4 (Seth Stohs)
Benson boasts a lot of tools. His speed, arm and power are considered to be "plus" assets for a center fielder, and after watching this play there's little doubt in my mind that his glove should be considered a plus as well. Contact is the only one of the five tools which isn't a "plus", but Benson has the potential to be a solid all-around player. Here's how he stacks up against a few recent (and popular) Twins outfielders at double-A.
Cuddyer is listed for reference only, as he's the only guy on this list who wasn't groomed as a center fielder. Kirby Puckett, who I also would have liked to use as a comp, never played in double-A.
All I wanted this to illustrate is that Benson profiles to be a fun combination of speed and power. Certain reports have him listed as being nearly as fast as Revere, but it also appears that his power is more developed at this level than another infamous speed and power Minnesota outfield prospect, Torii Hunter. Could Benson develop into a 20/20 player? Stay tuned.
Chris Parmelee, 1B/RF/DH, 23
Drafted: 1st round, 2006
Pre-2011 prospect rankings: #19 (Aaron Gleeman), #14 (Twinkie Town), #12 (Seth Stohs)
Parmelee hasn't boasted the power expected of him since, perhaps, posting a .532 slugging percentage when he made his debut in the Minnesota farm system back in the '06 rookie league. The Twins had him change his approach at the plate before the 2010 season, resulting in a drop in strikeout rate and increase in batting average, but it didn't make him a better player overall. It may have made him worse.
This season though, the power has come back. Partially. If he can continue to develop moderate power, with his ability to take walks he could be a very interesting player. Here are some comps for him.
I should mention Morneau did have a few games with double-A in '03, but the stint was too short to use for comparative purposes.
What we see here is something of a cautionary tale. Parmelee doesn't have the power of any other player on this list; at least it hasn't developed to where these players were at. His plate discipline appears to be more refined, and it may not be fair to compare him to a player like Mientkiewicz, who was a collegiate draft pick in just his fourth year in the minors.
Take this with a grain of salt, but the closest comp (on this list, mind you, it's not exactly an extensive list) appears to be Stahoviak. Stahoviak is also the player with the fewest MLB plate appearances, and who, with the exception of 1996, didn't have the Major League career you may have predicted given his minor league numbers.
But Stahoviak, like Mientkiewicz, was also a collegiate pick.
I happen to like both of these players. Benson may look like the higher upside player, but I also think that Parmelee will continue to develop his offensive game and may end up boasting a bit more power. Regardless, we'll be seeing a lot more of both of these guys in the coming years. Enjoy your sneak peak.