The Cardinals drafted Andrew (Drew) Benes, son of former Cardinals hurler Andy Benes and nephew of another former Cardinals pitcher, Alan Benes, in the 35th round of the 2010 MLB June Draft. Very little was made of Benes at the time of drafting, just another late round legacy pick, but after two abbreviated seasons, Benes is taking to high-A very well so far. Let’s take a look after the jump.
After signing, he pitched in relief for Johnson City and struck out 22 to only 6 walks in 23.2 innings. He started the next year in Extended Spring and did not see action until June with the Batavia Muckdogs, this time he pitched 4 games in relief and started 2. More small sample size problems, but he struck out 19 to only 5 walks in 20 innings. He lasted only a month in Batavia before taking the call to A ball in the Quad Cities. Again, he was mostly in relief with 2 spot starts. He struggled a little bit more there with an 18/11 strikeout to walk ratio in 28 innings.
Whatever the Cardinals saw in Benes, they assigned him to Palm Beach to start 2012 after just a month and a half in Quad Cities the previous year where he was slated as a starter. It may have been an age-appropriate assignment as Benes sits right in the middle of the age range for Palm Beach pitchers and another year would have made him the oldest Palm Beach pitcher. In 6 starts, he has faced as many batters as he did in Quad Cities last year and has struck out 35 and walked 4. (4!) His numbers otherwise look pretty solid, with a .300 BABIP which is low, but not abnormal. His Line Drive % is the only thing that sticks out at a high 20%. But, with the strong strikeouts he is getting, the LD% matters a bit less. So, you could say he is getting a bit lucky and his numbers should move towards the mean if he continues to give up as many line drives.
Drew Benes is benefiting slightly from the pitcher friendly confines of Palm Beach and the Florida State League, but with a 115 tRA+ (which is park and defense neutral and scaled for the whole league, 100 is average) he is more than a Palm Beach mirage. At 23 years old already, the Cardinals will likely continue to move him forward, but as long as he continues to be able to miss bats, he will find success.