August 15, 2022

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Swinging hot stick, Benson called up by Guardians

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CLEVELAND — The long wait for Will Benson’s arrival to the big leagues is finally over.

It’s been a roller coaster of a journey for the 24-year-old. Cleveland’s first-round pick in 2016 finally got his first call up to the Majors on Monday afternoon. Although he’s an outfielder, the club needs help at first base with Josh Naylor and Owen Miller currently battling through ailments. With only three Minor League games at first base under his belt (as recently as Saturday), Benson could be the temporary fix.

It was becoming difficult to ignore Benson’s bat, despite where he’d be placed defensively. He’s hit .278 with a .948 OPS, 20 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, 45 RBIs and 75 walks in 89 Triple-A games — numbers Cleveland will gladly input into its lineup.

Benson had a high bar set for him out of high school, considering he was the 14th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. If you scroll through his transactions page, you won’t see any stints on the injured list, yet his progression through the Minors wasn’t overwhelmingly quick. His average never eclipsed .240 in any of his first five professional seasons, he lost the 2020 season due to the pandemic and he hasn’t been in Cleveland’s top 30 prospects list (via MLB Pipeline) since 2019, when he ranked 25th.

The left-handed-hitting and throwing outfielder has finally come alive this season. Suddenly, he’s making more (and better) contact on pitches in the zone. Previously, he’d swing through a lot of hittable fastballs. And even though he’s 6-foot-5 inches and 230 pounds, Benson is athletic enough to be able to move around the field, defensively, like he’ll be asked to do for the Guardians.

And if his bat can produce like it did in the Minors, he’ll certainly be worth the wait.

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