WHITE SOX INK VanBenschoten

It was announced the Chicago White Sox have signed righthander John VanBenschoten, and invited him to spring training. I know alot of you are like, John VanWHO? But I have to admit I’ve been following this guy ever since the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him out of Kent State with the 8th pick in the 2001 amateur entry draft. See he was born April 14th, my birthday, although many years after me. I’ve always been interested in following guys born on my birthday, Pete Rose, Greg Maddux, David Justice, Steve Avery, Kyle Farnsworth, Gregg Zaun, Jesse Levis, and many others, only guy born on my exact birth date was lefthander Bobby Sprowl.

Well now the White Sox have VanBenschoten, now what? John was a very successful two way star for Kent State, it was highly debatable as to whether he was a pitcher or a hitter, after all he batted .440 with 31 long balls, leading all Division I, as a junior. But his electric mound stuff won out, and the Buccos made him a fulltime pitcher. On the hill, he struckout 63 batters in 48 innings, posting a 2.81 ERA. Although back then he worked almost as much out of the bullpen as he did as a starter.

His best success as a pro occurred in 2002 at Hickory in the SAL, Class A ball. John started 27 games, pitching 148 innings, striking out 145, amassing an 11-4 record, with a nifty 2.80 ERA. More success was in the cards as he was moved up to high Class A ball, where he started off 6-0 with a 2,22 ERA, before moving up to Class AA ball midseason. In Altoona he was only 7-6 with an earned run average of 3.69.

Van Benschoten has had reconstructive surgeries on both his shoulders, costing him nearly two full seasons of action before his return in 2007. He, started the 2007 season at Indianapolis (10-7, 2.56 ERA), would go back to Indianapolis, and would be recalled later during the season only to finish the season with no wins and seven losses for Pittsburgh. Again he would start the 2008 season with the Indianapolis Indians and remain on the inactive roster for the Pirates. After posting a 4-0 record and a 1.88 ERA with the Indians, he was called up by the Pirates on April 27 to be on the active roster. He currently holds the all-time major league record for highest career ERA with at least 75 innings pitched.

Van Benschoten, a 28-year-old starter, went a combined 2-13 with a 9.20 ERA in 26 appearances, including 19 starts, with the Pirates in 2004, ’07 and ’08. Call me a dreamer, but I still believe in this kid. I just called the Chicago White Sox congratulating them on signing him and suggesting they either make him a hitter or use him out of the bullpen. I believe shoulder injuries have taken their tole on this talented, oft-injured pitcher.

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