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January 19, 2007 – The Al Benjamin Q&A January 19, 2007

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
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Picture courtesy of AlBenjamin.com

Al Benjamin Q&A: At around 2PM EST today, OF Al Benjamin is expected to be LIVE on atlanticleaguebaseball.com to answer questions from fans.

The 29-year-old Houston native was a 12th round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1995. After two seasons in their organization and a year in the independent Heartland Baseball League, Benjamin signed with the Montreal Expos and spent a year with their Single-A affiliate.

It was in 2000 where his career really started to take off, when San Diego claimed him from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft prior to the start of the season.

The outfielder spent three seasons in the Padres organization, reaching the Triple-A level in 2002.

In 2003, there were too many players for not enough jobs, and Benjamin made his inaugural trek to the Atlantic League. Starting out with Newark, and then heading to Camden, Benjamin had his contract purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals in July and split time between Single-A and Double-A.

Since the end of that 2003 season, Benjamin has played for Atlantic City and Nashua, as well as returns to Camden and Newark.

Again, Benjamin will be here live at 2PM. You still have time sneak your questions in under the wire (send to: mashmore@patriotsbaseball.com) or follow LIVE by refreshing the comments section of the page.

ALSO, stay tuned at the end of the chat, where I’ll announce the date and time for our next guest.

News: I posted a few news items late last night/early this morning, check out yesterday’s post to make sure you didn’t miss anything. – Mike Ashmore

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1. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

Al Benjamin will be in the house in around 45 minutes.

Make sure you’re here by then to follow the Q&A live. Al will answer fans previously submitted questions – anything outside of that can be sent in at the end, and he’ll answer if he has time.

2. Scott Stanchak - January 19, 2007

I just wanted to sign on and say thank you to Al for chatting with the fans today. Also, thank you to Mike for all the great work he does with these. A lot of preparation and hard work goes into them. Enjoy!

3. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

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4. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

Al Benjamin is here, and right on time as well.

Thanks for joining us today, Al. Let’s get started with the first question…

JL writes – Good to talk with you, Al. You are the ultimate ‘veteran’ of minor and independent baseball. What message do you try to convey to the younger players, hoping to be scouted or signed by an affiliated club, during the season?

5. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

First of all,
hello to everyone and thanks for having me.

I try to tell the younger players to keep working hard and believe in their dream because you never know who is watching or what can happen

6. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

You’re welcome anytime, Al.

On with the questions…

Also, since you played affiliated ball in the Pirates, Expos, Red Sox, Padres, and Cardinal systems, what organization gave you the best shot at playing? Was it the Padres, who made you a Rule 5 pick in 1999?

7. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Yes the Padres gave the the best shot, I played my AA and AAA ball with them. I guess you can say those were my prospect days, when I played in the Arizona fall league.

8. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

To follow up on that, tell me about playing in the AFL. I’ve read that the crowds are pretty sparce, but tell me about the atmosphere and the experience of playing in a prospect league such as that…

9. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

It was a great experience even though the crowds were small. It was a competitive but laid back atmosphere. There were farm directors, big scouts, and GM’s at every one of those games. The talent there was amazing, at least 50-75% of the players that played in the league the year I was there got some sort of big league time.

10. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

What are your favorite and least favorite Atlantic League stadiums, and why?

11. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

I know Nashua is out of the league, but it was my least favorite especially on the visitors side. Currently in the league I would say Bridgeport, bad club house, bad post game food, bad park ot hit in, and it always seems to be raining!

My favorite would be a tie between Somerset and Lancaster, both have great stadiums, crowds and baseball atmosphere.

12. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

What do you do to keep busy in the off-season?

13. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Work wise I give hitting lessons and coach some select baseball teams. I also invest in real estate, I’m currently renovating a house to resell and I’m closing on another Jan 31, so between those two I stay really busy.

14. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

You’ve faced pretty much every Atlantic League pitcher since 2003. Who has the best stuff in the league?

15. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

I don’t think the guys with the best stuff are necessarily the best pitchers, I will give you the two who give me the most problems.

RHP Lincoln Mikkelson

LHP Bill Pulsipher

16. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

You definitely aren’t alone with having problems with those two…

You were picked up out of the Atlantic League by the Cardinals in 2003. What goes into the process of getting picked up? Are you making calls to teams? Is your agent calling teams? Or does a scout see you and you get a call out of the blue?

17. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Well I think it can be a combination of all three depending on the situation. When I was picked it was my agent making calls, and sending faxes, trying to keep my name out there. It’s easier to go back when you’re fresh out of an organization. After you’ve been in Indy ball for a few years it starts to get harder and harder. I guess you kind of get a label.

18. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

To follow-up…Most players come to the Atlantic League with the hopes of getting picked up. Does the decision to come back become more difficult once you get that “label” placed on you?

19. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

I think for all players the older you get, it starts to get more difficult to come back. Affiliated teams start to think you’re too old at 28 or 29 even though that really isnt old at all it’s old in baseball years if you haven’t made it to the major leagues yet. Family and financial responsiblities also start to play more of a factor also.

20. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

Having spent four seasons in the league, is there an Atlantic League moment that stands out for you? It can be either positive or negative…

21. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

I would have to say my 5-5 game since I haven’t won any championships in the league

22. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

Around five more or so for you after this one, we got a lot of questions for you…

Also, I don’t know if you could call it a moment, but playing with Rickey Henderson in Newark must have been a nice highlight in your career. What was it like sharing a locker room with him?

23. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

For those curious, by the way, Al’s five hit game on July 21st against Long Island was one of only two five-hit games all season. Dwight Maness had the only other just four days later.

24. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

It was amazing, hard to believe at first. The first time I saw his home run trot I was jmping up and down like a little kid.

25. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

You’ve played for four Atlantic League teams. Where did you have the best experience? The worst?

26. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Kind of mixed I guess. AC started out great but ended bad. I really enjoyed my time in Newark this year. We had a great group of talented guys. My Nashua experience was probably the worst overall.

27. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

It seemed like there were some hard feelings when you returned to Atlantic City last season with Newark. You got thrown at during the series at least once. Having had time to reflect on that – take me through what happened there…

28. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Well they released me, very early in the season to save some money and I didn’t feel it was warranted. So when I returned I hit a home run late in the game to put us ahead and took my time running around the bases. Well the players and coaches didn’t like it so they retaliated. it’s baseball it happens. It wasn’t any disrespect toward the players, it was directed at the management.

29. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

Thanks for an honest answer there, I know everyone appreciates it.

You played for Chris Jones while in Newark, and you may have heard that he was named as the new manager of the Kannapolis Intimidators, the White Sox Single-A affiliate. Tell me about playing for Chris, and your thoughts on whether managing in affiliated ball best suits him…

30. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

No problem. I had a great time playing for CJ. He is a very knowledgeable baseball person. I’m happy he found a job managing somewhere, I just hate I can’t ask him for a job because I played in that league almost ten years ago. He’ll do fine in affiliated ball, for whatever reason we couldn’t get our talent level to translate into wins on the field in newark this year.

31. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

What are your plans for the 2007 season?

32. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Well i’m not sure yet. I know that I want to play in 07, I just don’t know where yet. I haven’t soken with Newark or any other teamin the league. My first choice would be to stay in the Atlantic League though

33. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

Last question for you. Feel free to have a little fun with it…

If I’m an Atlantic League GM (or any GM, for that matter), why should I sign you to my team?

34. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Because by signing me you’re going to get a consistent 100% percent effort on a daily basis. You’re also goin to get lots of hits and a few homeruns thronin their as well 🙂

35. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

oops thats thrown in there

36. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

Well, that’s it for our Al Benjamin Q&A. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to do this, I know the fans really enjoy reading these. And hey, who knows…maybe you’ll be able to make a second career out of this. You could have a weekly segment on here – we’d call it “Al on the AL.”

All that aside, thanks again for participating. Best of luck to you in 2007, and if there’s anything else you’d like to say, fire away.

37. Al Benjamin - January 19, 2007

Once again thanks for having me and thanks to all the Atlantic League fans for their support over the years. AL on AL sounds good I could see myself offering my 2 cents to whomever would listen.

38. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

To learn more about Al, or for those who are new Al Benjamin fans thanks to the Q&A, make sure you head on over to AlBenjamin.com

39. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 19, 2007

If anyone has any questions for Al, feel free to leave them here and he’ll answer them if he can.

As for future Q&A’s, they are as follows:

Ask Ashmore Day, January 25th. You can ask me questions anytime, but it’ll be a day for you to leave your questions about the Atlantic League or about myself.

Adam Lorber, Camden Riversharks GM. January 30th, 4PM.

John Evans, played for Bridgeport and Newark during the early stages of the league. Best known for serving as the long-time bullpen catcher for Somerset. January 31st, 2 PM.

40. Jeff - January 19, 2007

Al – What was your Camden experioence like? What do you think of Dwight Maness, as a player or friend?


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