“7”. I didn’t get the first digit, so I assumed it was 87. Although the lefty threw with plenty of effort, I didn’t think he was throwing that hard. The next pitch came in. “97???” My surprised expression was reflected on most of the faces around me. “98” was the next pitch. I couldn’t believe it.
It was happening again. Some pitcher I’ve never heard of was throwing smoke on the backfields. So, who is he? Ramon Benjamin was signed by the Marlins and debuted with their Dominican affiliate in 2006, at age 19. The following year, he came stateside and posted a 2.82 ERA in 16 games in the Gulf Coast League.
Benjamin didn’t pitch at all in 2008. As a matter of fact, he isn’t your typical popup player. At 27, he’s spent the better part of his career in A-ball, with just 21.2 innings in Double-A. For whatever reason, after a solid if unspectacular season in High-A for the Yankees, they cut him loose.
Maybe he wasn’t throwing that hard. Maybe the results weren’t what they expected. But the Dodgers took a chance on him, on Jan. 10 by signing him to a Minor-League deal. Rotoworld called him “nothing more than organizational depth for the Dodgers.”
But on Friday, Benjamin became the most interesting player on the backfields. He’ll be monitored closely by instructors, followed closely by prospect hounds, and who knows; maybe he could find an improbable path to the Majors.