Wes Benjamin Makes Surprise Major League Debut
Arguably the biggest surprise addition to the Rangers' 60-man player pool was lefthander Wes Benjamin.
The 27-year-old wasn't on the 40-man roster. He didn't post terrific numbers in 2019 at Triple-A Nashville.
But he's lefthanded, which never hurts a pitcher trying to make the big leagues, and he has been a steady extra player during the past few spring trainings.
In the process, the 2014 fifth-rounder from Kansas left an impression.
In August, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Benjamin became a major league player.
Benjamin made his big league debut with a one-inning appearance on Aug. 16 at Colorado, allowing two runs but striking out two. His callup came after his work at the alternate camp was lauded, and after he nearly cracked the Opening Day roster with a strong summer camp.
"Wes is a guy who he's just missed the cut a few times," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He was probably one of the last guys where we drew a line towards big league invites this winter. He got called over a few times, and every time he does the coaches and the scouts, everybody always has a positive thing to say about him."
Daniels and Rangers manager Chris Woodward point to Benjamin's makeup, which he again showed when spring training was shut down in March. He assured everyone that he would be ready for whatever was asked of him, and that was evident when a scout went to watch him throw.
Benjamin pitched to a 5.52 ERA in 2019, but had a 3.75 mark in the second half. He said juggling that adversity helped him move forward with his career.
"Last year at Triple-A Nashville I got kicked in the teeth a little more than normal coming out of the games," said Benjamin, who throws a fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup. "Being able to handle the failure and being able to learn from it and what to go to next has been the last piece of the puzzle I needed."
— The Rangers added righthanders Cole Winn (2018 first-rounder) and Ricky Vanasco (2017 15th-rounder), two of the team's top pitching prospects, to the alternate training site in mid August. Neither has pitched above low Class A. They joined prospects Josh Jung, Sam Huff and Alex Speas in the alternate group.
— Former Mississippi State second baseman Justin Foscue, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2020, also joined the alternate site group in August. With his addition, the Rangers' past three first-round picks—Foscue, Jung and Winn—are in the 60-man player pool.