Will Benson has earned some hardware already this season and now he will add two-time All-Star to the list of professional accomplishments on his resume.
The 21-year-old slugger is one of three Lake County Captains named to participate for the Midwest League’s Eastern Division All-Star team on Tuesday night from South Bend, Indiana. The first pitch of the night is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET.
Benson highlights the three Captains making the trip west to the home of the South Bend Cubs, Four Winds Field. It will be his second consecutive Midwest League All-Star Game appearance after representing Lake County a season ago. He has already been named the league’s Player of the Week three different times this season after going on home run barrages, and the fourth-year pro headed into the All-Star break with a .272/.371/.604 slash with 12 doubles, three triples, 18 homers, and 55 RBI through his first 62 games. His 44 runs scored are tied for third-most in the Eastern League. His home run production is best in the league by three and his RBI total is six than the next closest player, Great Lakes’ Niko Hulsizer.
Not a one-dimensional player, Benson is also third in the league in stolen bases, with 18 in 20 chances.
The 2016 first round draft pick out of high school spent last season at Class-A Lake County, hitting a career-high 22 homers and driving in 58 in 123 games, but he posted a .180/.324/.370 line in an up-and-down year. His strong first half for the Captains could earn him a second half promotion to High-A Lynchburg.
Freeman, 20, will make his second consecutive All-Star trip after representing the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game a year ago. The third-year pro, a collective bargaining round B selection in 2017 out of high school, has struggled a bit in the field at short for the Captains, but he has been reliable at the plate. In 61 games, he has hit .292 with a .382 on-base percentage and a .424 slugging mark with 16 doubles (tied for seventh in the Eastern League), three triples, three homers, and 24 RBI while scoring 51 times (tops in the league). His 69 hits in the first half were eighth-most in the EL.
Freeman was an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star for the Indians last year in his first full year in the farm system. He is currently ranked as the third-best prospect in the Cleveland organization, according to MLB Pipeline.
Alvarez is in his second season of action in the Midwest League with the Captains. A 23-year-old right-handed reliever, he split last year with Mahoning Valley (22 games) and Lake County (12 games), posting a combined 2-2 record in 34 games with five saves in six opportunities, a 4.70 ERA, and a 1.38 WHIP.
This season, Alvarez has worked 22 times in relief, posting a 4-1 record with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP, and a .209 batting average against for the Captains. He has struck out 30 batters in 30 innings of work.
Bowling Green shortstop Wander Franco (number one Tampa Bay Rays’ prospect) will headline the Eastern All-Star team. He is joined by his teammate, pitcher Shane McClanahan (No. 11 TB prospect), and pitching prospect and hometown representative Brailyn Marquez (No. 3 Cubs prospect), among the Captains and others on the Eastern roster.
The Captains closed out the final weekend of the first half on a positive note, clinching a playoff berth by winning the Midwest League Eastern Division Wild Card spot behind a 7-4 win over the Fort Wayne Tin Caps on Saturday to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014. It marks the sixth time in club history that Lake County will participate in the playoffs and the fourth time since the Captains joined the Midwest League.
Photo: Tim Phillis/TCP Photography (via Lake County Captains on MiLB.com)