Former Kansas baseball pitcher Wes Benjamin made his debut for the Texas Rangers on Aug. 16, just five days after being recalled from the team’s alternative training site. He becomes the 29th Jayhawk to play in the majors.
Despite being a starting pitcher throughout his college and minor league career, Benjamin came in as a reliever for the Rangers’ game against the Colorado Rockies. Pitching one inning, Benjamin gave up two runs on three hits and two strikeouts in the Rangers 10-6 loss.
He also appeared in the Texas' Aug. 21 game against the Seattle Mariners, when he pitched a solid 4 1/3 innings after replacing the team’s starter in the first inning. Benjamin allowed three hits and struck out three batters. On the season, Benjamin holds a 6.75 ERA over 5 1/3 innings.
The Winfield, Illinois, native played two seasons with the Jayhawks (2012-14). During the 2013-14 season at KU, Benjamin pitched 110 2/3 innings with 79 strikeouts and a 4.15 ERA before prematurely ending his college career after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2014.
Two months after his surgery, Benjamin became the highest drafted Kansas baseball player under coach Ritch Price, as Benjamin was selected 156th overall in the fifth round by the Rangers.
Since then, he has made an appearance with every minor league team within the Rangers organization, spending at least one season at every level of minor league baseball. Most recently with the AAA Nashville Sound, Benjamin appeared in 27 games, 25 as a starter, going 7-6 in 135 1/3 innings pitched with a team-high 114 strikeouts.
Due to the full cancellation of the minor league baseball season because of COVID-19, MLB allowed teams to create alternate training sites with players in the minor league system if they were needed to be called up. That was the case for Benjamin on Aug. 11 when he received the call prior to the team’s game against the Seattle Mariners.
“He’s chased his dream,” said Kansas baseball head coach Ritch Price, in a Kansas Athletics press release, “and tonight he gets the opportunity to live it.”