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Double-A Transition Monitor: Joe Benson, Clint Robinson, Brandon Guyer

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Double-A Transition Monitor

Joe Benson, OF, Minnesota Twins: Joe Benson's tools are among the best in the Twins organization, but his performance track record is uneven. He got off to a slow start in Double-A in 2010, hitting .169/.296/.271 in April, but after a three-week remedial course in High-A he returned to perform better in subsequent months, hitting .251/.336/.527 overall, with 23 homers, 14 steals, 39 walks, and 115 strikeouts in 374 at-bats. Benson has 20-20 potential, but continues to hamper his offense with an overaggressive swing and trouble with breaking stuff. He's made progress, and held his own in Double-A all things considered, but it still remains to be seen if he'll make sufficient contact for his tools to play at their full potential in the majors. He's still young, not turning 23 until March.

Brandon Guyer, OF, Chicago Cubs: Guyer led the Southern League with a .986 OPS this year, hitting .344/.398/.588 overall, with 27 walks, 51 strikeouts, and going 30-for-33 in stolen bases in 369 at-bats. A 24 year old, he was drafted from the University of Virginia in the fifth round in 2007. He tried the Double-A transition in 2009 but failed, hitting .190/.236/.291 in 57 games for Tennessee. Obviously he was much better this year. Guyer is an excellent athlete, one of the best in the Cubs system, with speed his best attribute. He's got some power as well, although a history of nagging injuries and some swing issues prevented that from being fully expressed until this year. I don't think he'll ever be a huge home run guy (he hit 13 this year), but he's got considerable gap pop and should be good for quite a few doubles. His walk rate is low, but he makes contact and his strikeout rate isn't bad. We could see him sometime in the majors next year.

Clint Robinson, 1B, Kansas City Royals: Although Eric Hosmer soaked up most of the first base prospect attention in the Royals system this year, Clint Robinson also had a terrific season. The 25-year-old won the Texas League Triple Crown, also leading in OPS, hitting .335/.410/.625 with 41 doubles, 29 homers, 58 walks, and 86 strikeouts in 477 at-bats. A 25th round pick out of Troy University in 2007, Robinson is a big guy at 6-5, 225 (although he actually looks bigger in person). He performed well at the A-ball levels, hitting .298/.356/.463 at Wilmington in '09 and .264/.333/.472 at Burlington in '08, both seasons being better than they might look on the surface due to the park/league environments in which they occurred. He exploded in the friendlier Northwest Arkansas environment this year, hitting a very robust .397/.482/.738 at home but a still solid .285/.348/.532 on the road. Robinson's main tool is power. He's not fast or very athletic and doesn't have a great glove, but he's always produced, and his strikeout rates have always been pretty low for a guy with substantial power, which is a good marker. I don't know what the Royals will do with him, and he's 26 next year, but the guy passed the Double-A test easily and deserves legitimate chances at higher levels.