Original post from North Dakota Twins Fan
In the last couple of weeks, the Twins have seen a concerning development with two players in the upper levels of the minor leagues. Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni were demoted to New Britain after starting the year with the Rochester Red Wings. The most concerning thing for both of these players might be the fact that both of them got playing time in the major leagues during last year's dismal season. Each of these players is on a different path but the front office for the Twins has to be frustrated with their performance so far this year.
When the Twins drafted Benson in the second round of the 2006 draft, the team liked his athletic ability and the up side he could offer as a strong defensive player to go along with his offensive skill set. Since that time, Benson has gradually moved through the Twins minor league system and he saw himself be rated as one of the top prospects for the club. In my offseason rankings, I had Benson as the number two rated prospect for the Twins
with him finishing behind Miguel Sano.
The 2010 season was a break out year for Mr. Benson as he was awarded with the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. He started the year in Fort Myers and dominated pitching in the Florida State League for 21 games. Before being promoted to New Britain, he hit .294/.375/.588 with 11 doubles and four home runs. The power followed him to New Britain even though his batting average dropped a little bit. He ended the year with a very good final stat line of .259/.343/.538 with 27 home runs, 31 doubles, and 8 triples.
Benson continued to play well last season and the argument could have been made for him to win the minor league player of the year
for the second consecutive year. He would make his MLB debut as a September call-up but his first taste of the big leagues came with very little success. He would start the 2012 season in Rochester and it seemed like he should be knocking on the door to the big leagues. This dream was far from the reality.
During his time with the Red Wings, Benson struggled at the plate to the tune of hitting .179/.269/.316 with seven extra-base hits in 28 games. The Twins felt a change of pace was in order and he was sent to New Britain to try and find his swing. Since he arrived in New Britain, his swing has continued to falter and he is batting .156/.250/.500 in eight games. As one of the top prospects for the organization, it is tough to watch him struggle in his seventh season as a member of the Twins farm system.
Rene Tosoni has never been considered a top prospect for the Twins but he has shown some versatility since being a 36th round pick back in 2005. In 2009 and 2010, Tosoni had a batting average around .270 and he was able to show a little bit of power. Last season he spent time going up and down between Rochester and Minnesota but he was never able to find success for the Red Wings.
He started the 2012 campaign back in Rochester and much like Benson, he struggled with trying to find his swing with the Red Wings. He missed some time in April with a lacerated left ring finger but this was still no excuse for his slow start. He went 5-for-5 on Monday and this still only raised his batting line to .167/.267/.197 in 21 games. He is on the way back to New Britain after not playing there since the 2010 campaign.
There has been a lot of talk around Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunsansky for his ability to work with young hitters on their approach at the plate. His message must not have been getting through to Benson and Tosoni and now they will be in the hands of Rudy Hernandez, the hitting coach for New Britain. It will be interesting to see how they handle the transition back to the Eastern League.
With the Twins lacking a ton of prospects in the upper minor leagues, it is discouraging to see to players will major league service time being sent in the opposite direction. The Twins have seen plenty of players make the trip from Rochester this year but it looks like Benson and Tosoni won't be included in that group anytime soon. It will be important to see how they adjust to their demotion and hopefully they will both be able to regain their form in the coming months.