One of the most interesting yet enigmatic high school bats in the 2016 MLB Draft belongs to Will Benson,a high school outfielder/first baseman from the Atlanta area. Benson has the physical tools of a pure first round pick, but even with just three weeks to go before the draft it is uncertain where he will land.
We will start with the certainties. Benson is a 6-5 (or 6-6, depending on the source) 225 pound left-handed hitter born June 16th, 1998. All the physical attributes are here: above-average raw power and physical strength, above-average running speed, above-average arm strength. Although he has played first base he has considerable experience in center field; in pro ball he projects best in right, where his arm and range will play well. His makeup is considered strong and he is an excellent student with a commitment to Duke University.
Given his tools, makeup, and geographic background, he draws inevitable conclusions to Jason Heyward. You'll read that in every article about Benson and it is unavoidable.
Sounds like a first-rounder, but questions about Benson's bat throw doubt into the mix. Benson's bat speed is considered excellent, but his hitting mechanics are doubtful, or at least inconsistent. All sources agree they are less than ideal, although their descriptions on the exact nature of the problem vary.
From Baseball America:
Benson showed plus-plus raw power throughout the summer, though his ability to get to his power is still a question due to concerns that some scouts have about his hitting ability. Benson does not consistently use his lower half, forcing him to commit to swinging at pitches early. His bat path can be a bit steep, leading to a tendency to roll over pitches and hit them on the ground with topspin.
He's at his best when he uses a short stroke, though he falls into the trap of trying to do too much at times. He hasn't had a great spring with the bat but still has enough offensive upside and all-around potential to go in the first round.
Benson's lefthanded swing is almost unnaturally short and has a severe cutoff out front. That lack of extension will create issues with Benson in the future with both his power potential and his plate coverage if it can't be corrected. The bat speed and strength at contact are unmistakable, however.
Pro coaching may or may not enable Benson to make necessary adjustments. How teams assess his hitting risk, in combination with his Duke commitment and bonus demands, will determine where he lands. On physical talent alone he is a first rounder, but the uncertainties mean he could rank anywhere from the 15-20 range all the way down to the second round.