The No. 5 prospect in the Twins system, Benson rarely gets the attention his tools deserve. If he's really finally hitting, he's a true five-tool talent as the above-average speed and power, good defense, and plus arm have always been around, but he entered the season a career .261 hitter in the minors with a strike out for every 3.6 at-bats. Scouts saw progress last year, and that is continuing so far into the brief season with a .406/.441/.625 line in eight games. He could get to the big leagues this year.
While the Rays have more impressive pitching prospects at Double-A like Matt Moore and Chris Archer, they have a pair closer to the big leagues in Cobb and lefty Alex Torres, who also has impressed early on. The No. 19 prospect in the system entering the year, Cobb has whiffed 17 over just 11 innings in his two starts for the Bulls, but he's hardly over-powering, relying more on a plus changeup to miss bats than his 89-92 mph sinker. He profiles as a back-end starter, something the Rays don't need, but few teams can get through a season without making a few called to Triple-A for an arm, and Torres and Cobb are both making the potential for that call a little more comfortable.
Encouraging start, or another case of “here we go again”? The top prospect in the Rangers system and No. 33 on the Top 101, Perez ranked that highly despite a 5.96 ERA, as while incredible stuff was frequently on display, consistently was not. After struggling in his first start of the year, needing 71 pitches to get through three innings, Perez found the consistency again on Thursday while touching 97 and showing up his impressive secondary pitches, but until we see more of this and less of five days ago, the excitement is a bit tempered.
Others Of Note:
- Chase Anderson, RHP, Diamondbacks (High-A Visalia): 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 10 K. Only has average velocity, but pounds the strike zone and has an outstanding changeup.
- Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies (Triple-A Colorado Springs): 4-for-6, HR (3), 3 R, 2 RBI, SB. Raises batting average 102 points in one night; Outfielder with power and speed who should get a look this year.
- Tanner Bushue, RHP, Astros (Low-A Lexington): 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Repeating Low-A but still just 19; still has plenty of projection, and still learning how to pitch.
- Jaff Decker, OF, Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 2-for-5, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, K. Eight hits and 20 total bases in his last three games, Decker could be pushing for a full-time job in the big leagues by next year, and we all know the Padres need anything resembling a professional hitter.
- Rafael Dolis, RHP, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K. No. 15 prospect in the system had mid-90s velocity but needs to deepen the arsenal to avoid a relief profile.
- Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners (High-A High Desert): 3-for-4, HR (1), 2 R, RBI. Taking advantage of his first home game; 0-for-12 in first three games, 6-for-12 since.
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile): 1-for-2, HR (5), R, RBI, BB, K. Maybe that crazy season in the Cal League was for real after all. At least maybe, don't want to make too many conclusions on his impressive .381/.536/1.143 line in seven games.
- A.J. Griffin, RHP, Athletics (Low-A Burlington): 7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Two excellent starts for 13th round pick last June; more craftiness than stuff, but it's a TON of craftiness.
- John Hellweg, RHP, Angels (High-A Inland Empire): Sleeper Alert! Six-foot-nine righty throws downhill at 98 mph but has control problems, five walks in five innings but also 10 whiffs.
- Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals (Triple-A Omaha): 1-for-4, HR (1), 2 K. First Triple-A home run; .314/.351/.429 in eight games.
- Casey Kelly, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K. First good start for his new team; also generated 14 ground ball outs.
- John Lamb, LHP, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas): 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 5 BB, K. Has been struggling with command out of the gate; 73 pitches and just 35 for strikes.
- Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas): 3-for-5, K. Fourth straight multi-hit game and 15-for-34 (.441) overall; also fielding .862 with four errors in eight games.
- Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox (Double-A Portland): 2-for-4, HR (2), R, RBI, K. Like Benson, Middlebrooks finally showed progress with the bat last year, and he's 11-for-27 with 22 total bases in his first seven Eastern League contests.
- Kyle Parker, OF, Rockies (Low-A Asheville): 2-for-4, 2B, R. 2010 first-round pick is hitting .409 after three straight multi-hit games; still looking for first home run.
- Wily Mo Pena, OF, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno): 2-for-5, HR (4), 3 R, 2 RBI, BB. .409/.500/.955 in six games . . . just sayin'.
- Chris Pettit, OF, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake): 4-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI. Has had his fair share of injuries and is already 26, but can still hit.
- Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox (Low-A Greenville): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Being used cautiously, both in terms of level and workload, but can't argue with the results or the stuff so far, as he's been 92-94 mph will all of his secondary pitches working.
- Trevor Reckling, LHP, Angels (Double-A Arkansas): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K. Awfully good when he throws strikes; Angels hope he can get back on track this year.
- Jerry Sands, OF, Dodgers (Triple-A Albuquerque): 3-for-5, 3B, R, RBI, CS. What? No home run? .424/.432/.909 in eight games.
- Joe Savery, 1B, Phillies (High-A Clearwater): 2-for-4, 2B, R. Poor showing lowers his batting average 19 points to .621 (18-for-29).
- Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (Triple-A Columbus): 1-for-3, HR (1), R, RBI, BB, 2 K. First Triple-A game since 2004, when he hit .287/.360/.438 for Buffalo.
- Jordan Swaggery, RHP, Cardinals (Low-A Quad Cities): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. Way too good for this level with 14 strikeouts and no walks in 13 shutout innings; many scouts still nonetheless see him has a reliever due to complex delivery and lack of true changeup.
- Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 3 K. Lacked fastball command but still found a way to pitch out of trouble without best stuff.
- Aaron Thompson, LHP, Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Failed first-round pick (Marlins, 2005) trying to work his way back. Has allowed just three hits over 12 innings.
- Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): 2-for-4, 2 2B, R, RBI, BB. Hitting .360 in three games with three walks; it took him 30 games to draw his third Double-A walk in 2010.