Top Prospect Alert Features

Top Prospect Alert Baseball News Blog

Top Prospect Alert Fantasy Player Reports

Exclusive Prospect Interviews

Top Prospect Alert Original Stories

Prospect Photo Gallery

Top Prospect Alert Trivia

Top Prospect Alert Message Board

MLB Hat Store

Minor League Store

NFL Hat Store

NFL Team Apparel

NFL Player Jerseys

NCAA Hat Store

NBA Hat Store

NBA Player Jerseys



 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - John Van Benschoten

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 4/14/80, Age: 22, Height: 6’4’’, Weight: 215, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: Pirates - Drafted in the 1st Round of the 2001 Draft (Kent State U.). 2001 Stats: (Sseason-A - Williamsport) 0-2, 3.80 ERA, 26 IP, 23 H, 10 BB, 19 K. 2002 Stats: (Low-A - Hickory) 11-4, 2.80 ERA, 148 IP, 119 H, 6 HR, 62 BB, 145 K.
   John Van Benschoten was the NCAA’s leading home run hitter in 2001 while playing for Kent State, and the Pirates selected him with the eighth pick in that June’s amateur draft. That was viewed by many analysts as a solid pick for all of about fifteen seconds, until the Pirates announced that Van Benschoten would be sent to short-season ball to pitch. He had closed for Kent State, but no other team, to my knowledge, preferred his pitching ability to his hitting. He was only moderately successful in his mound debut for Williamsport, but was quite poor in some DH duty in between starts, so some credence for the Pirates’ opinion was developing. This season, the Pirates did not let him hit at all, and he really pitched rather well for Hickory. Van Benschoten has a live arm, working off a fastball that reached 95 mph. He also has an above average curve that is steadily getting better. For now, he is still a two-pitch pitcher, which is primarily why the Pirates have not moved him up the ladder more quickly. A changeup is of the utmost importance if he is to be successful at AA and above, and he has been working on one all year. It would still best be described as developing, which is a big reason why he remained at Hickory all year. At about 3.8 BB/9, his control is still a bit shaky as well, although he did strike out nearly a batter an inning. My main problem with Van Benschoten is that he still has these major issues that need to be resolved, and he is 22 years old pitching in low-A ball against lineups one to three years his junior. I’m willing to be open-minded on his situation to a point, but time is most definitely not on his side.
    The Pirates took a big gamble with a high draft pick conversion this extreme, and to this point, I am still a bit skeptical that it will play out in their favor. Prospect age relative to league average is a major factor in projecting future success, and Van Benschoten is still in the developing stages as an “old man” in relative terms, so he is not a likely candidate to be pushed much faster. I think we will see him at Lynchburg and Altoona (if the Pirates keep those affiliates) next year, with a Pittsburgh arrival still nearly two full years away if he progresses like they hope. Right now, he reminds me of a guy that I liked a long time ago that has recently rejuvenated his career: LaTroy Hawkins. If Van Benschoten develops a changeup, he could become a #2 or #3 starter in time. Without it, he may be a future closer for the Pirates, just like he was at Kent, or a setup man like Mr. Hawkins. Well, at least they might be able to let him bat in the late innings and save their bench. Time will tell on this decision, because if he becomes a dominant starter, the Pirates’ scouting department will have a major feather in their cap for noticing potential that no one else would have thought to uncover.


Top Prospect Alert is owned by:
Ben Lipson

© 1999 - 2004 All rights reserved to Top Prospect Do not copy without permission from the owners of Top Prospect

Fantasy Baseball Central
You'll find it at .... Fantasy Baseball Central. Fantasy & Rotisserie Baseball strategy and advice. Plus over 750 links to information on Fantasy Baseball."
Visit Fantasy Baseball Central!