Parmelee, Benson showcasing their skills
Prospects seeing plenty of playing time as season winds down
DETROIT -- Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson haven't spent much time apart since being drafted by the Twins in 2006.
Parmelee, the club's first-round pick that year, and Benson, who was selected in the second round, played together every step of the way from rookie ball to Double-A New Britain before they both made their Major League debuts on Tuesday against the White Sox.
"It seems like wherever he goes I go; or vice versa," Parmelee said. "We got called up to [Class A] Beloit in '06 together, got sent down to [high Class A] Fort Myers last year, and we came back up [to New Britain] two days apart. So everything we've been doing, it's been right there with him. He's like a brother through the system."
Now the 23-year-old prospects are both trying to make an impact for the Twins down the stretch despite the fact the club is out of contention in the American League Central.
So far, they're getting plenty of chances to show off their talents, as they've started each of the last five games and appear likely to get plenty of playing time moving forward, with veterans such as Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel battling injuries.
Parmelee, who started all five games at first base, has been particularly impressive at the plate, batting .375 with a .911 OPS along with a double, three walks and three RBIs.
"He's doing good," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's having good at-bats. He's had a good year. He's been swinging. He's come up here and has been doing fine."
Parmelee, who hit .287/.366/.435 with 29 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs and 83 RBIs in 142 games with New Britain, said the key has been taking a simple approach at the plate and not thinking too much about who's up there pitching against him.
"The main thing is that I'm just going up there and trying to get a good pitch to hit," Parmelee said. "I'm trying to get some runs across the board so that we can try to get a win."
It also helps that Parmelee saw time with the Major League club in Spring Training, as he singled, doubled and homered in 11 Grapefruit League at-bats.
"He's seen some Major League pitching," Gardenhire said. "I don't think he's in awe of it. I think it's just being able to control your emotions a little bit, and he seems to be doing that pretty well."
Benson, meanwhile, has showed flashes of why he was named the club's Minor League Player of the Year in 2010 and is ranked the Twins' No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com.
He's hitting just .167 with a walk, but Benson has showed his speed with two doubles and a stolen base while seeing time at all three outfield positions. But he's also made a few baserunning mistakes and came up short diving for a ball in center field during his first game that led to a triple.
"He has some things to learn," Gardenhire said, "but he plays hard. He's a gamer. He has all the tools in the world, so we'll see how he plays and go from there."
Benson, who hit .285/.389/.499 with 28 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs, 14 stolen bases and 67 RBIs in 111 games with the Rock Cats, has also had troubles putting the ball in play, as he's struck out seven times in 18 at-bats.
But he's aware that strikeouts count the same as any other out, and it comes with the territory of being an aggressive hitter with power.
"I always love to cut down on strikeouts, but an out's an out," Benson said. "There's no reason to dwell on it. I thought I did a lot better putting balls in play when I needed to [in the Minors], especially with runners on base. There's an appropriate time to strike out, and there's times when you have to do your best to put a ball in play and try to move a runner."
So it'll still be a learning process for both Parmelee and Benson, who are doing their best to prove they can stick with the Twins. They're both likely to start next season at Triple-A Rochester, but now is as good a time as any to see if their talent can translate into the big leagues.
"A year like this is a great opportunity for the young guys to come up and get their feet wet in a situation where we're battling to finish off as strong as we can, but we're not battling like we usually do to win the division and get deep into the playoffs," said veteran right-hander Carl Pavano. "That's definitely a different dynamic for a younger guy to handle. Some guys can, some guys can't. And unless they come up and experience it, you don't know how they're going to respond. It's a great opportunity for the organization to see what they have going into next year."