TJ Bennett scouting report
Two years is a long time. But two years is what it took for TJ Bennett to jump from the independent leagues to affiliated baseball, and it’s those two years and 127 long games with unaffiliated clubs in the Frontier League, the Australian Baseball League, and the American Association that have really made Bennett the player that he’s become. A second baseman by trade, the Canadian free agent made the most of his time with the Giants in 2016, and now has gone from irrelevant afterthought to potential future bench role contributor as he enters 2017.
After the Giants signed him and put him through spring training roughly twelve months ago, they gave him a shot at all levels in 2016. Bennett played just a single game in both Low-A and Double-A, and just four games in Triple-A, with the vast majority of his time spent in San Jose. With the baby Giants, Bennett was impressive, slashing .284/.357/.482/.839 in 222 at-bats, with 15 doubles and nine home runs in just 65 games played.
TJ Bennett scouting report — physical tools and projection
Bennett is built thick, and while he’s not stocky, he’s strong and athletic with a body type that should serve him well moving forward across the entire infield. He’s been predominantly a second baseman with the Giants to this point, but his physical build and athleticism could push him to third and first base—and even the corner outfield spots—in a super-utility type role one day. His hands are fine on defense and his arm and range are both average, without question good enough to man the middle infield in short spurts, but likely not a long-term spot for him in the upper minors.
At the plate, as you can see above, TJ Bennett has a compact left-handed stroke that creates a surprising amount of power. Not a particularly patient hitter, Bennett’s aggressiveness can get the better of him at times, and he’s susceptible to swinging over breaking balls quite a bit. However, his stroke is compact enough and he remains consistently short to the ball that he can make decent adjustments against off-speed at times, too. Without plus speed, Bennett’s offensive game hinges on his ability to develop that power swing and build past his successful 2016 season.
TJ Bennett scouting report — what’s ahead in 2017
Bennett figures to see significant time in Double-A Richmond—if not outright get started there—when opening day rolls around. He has but a half season’s worth of time in High-A under his belt, but he acquitted himself very well in San Jose and may not have much let to prove in the California League. Beyond that he’s also 24 years old, and he’ll be 25 in July; at that age, it’d behoove him—and the Giants—to get to Richmond and see what they may have in the infielder. If all goes well, though, Bennett has a ceiling as an interesting utility infielder/outfielder type of player with some sneaky pop that could come off a big league bench and contribute one day.
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