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Patience Begins Paying Off For Will Benson

Do-overs aren’t fun for anyone, especially first-round draft picks. But 21-year-old outfielder Will Benson was trying to make the most of his.

After hitting an uninspiring .180 at low Class A Lake County last year, the 14th overall pick in 2016 out of Atlanta's Westminster High was sent back to the Midwest League this year.

The results have been much better.

Benson slammed a MWL-best 22 home runs a year ago and had already notched 10 through 39 games this year, while hitting .266/.356/.552 and stealing 14 bases.

It didn’t take long for the lefthanded-hitting Benson to show that he had put his disappointing 2018 season behind him. On April 18, he launched four homers in a game against South Bend.

"Last year was not in vain,” Lake County manager Luke Carlin said. "The three factors we consider for hitters are tactical, technical and psychological. Will has goals in all three areas and he's working hard to achieve all of them."

When the Indians drafted Benson, he was viewed as a big (6-foot-5, 215 pounds), fast, strong athletic player, with plenty of upside, but with a swing that needed some refinement. The swing adjustments have taken longer than expected.

Benson hit .209 in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2016 and .238 at short-season Mahoning Valley in 2017. Through it all, the one constant has been Benson’s work ethic.

"I’m pretty hard on myself,” Benson said. "I thank the Indians from the bottom of my heart for being patient with me. I’m working my tail off.”

"It’s super exciting to watch him hit it hard and far, but Will can really run, too,” Carlin said. "If the opportunity is there to take the extra base, he’ll take it.”

Riley Pint Tonyfarlowfourseam

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We analyze which top picks from the 2016 and 2017 drafts were left unprotected and available in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

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