The 2018 season saw Connor Bennett pitch at three different levels, where he posted a combined 2.45 ERA in 36.2 innings. He saw limited action in Dayton that year, but did have some struggles at times in his eight games there, resulting in a 5.27 ERA with the Dragons.
When the 2019 season began, the right-handed pitcher headed back to join the Dayton Dragons. The first outing of the season went well as he struck out two batters in the 9th inning without allowing a run. The next outing, though, didn’t go nearly as well as Bennett gave up four earned while walking three batters in an inning of work. He quickly put that outing behind him, finishing out the month with just one more earned run in 7.2 innings – though he did walk six batters in that span, striking out 13 to go with it. April would be a bit of a tough month for the righty, posting a 4.35 ERA in 10.1 innings with nine walks and 19 strikeouts.
May didn’t start out well for Connor Bennett as he allowed a run while only recording one out against Peoria on the 1st of the month. The next four weeks, though, were outstanding. Bennett allowed just two earned runs in 13.1 innings with four walks and he racked up 21 strikeouts. The month came to a close against South Bend, and while he did pick up the save on the 31st he did give up two runs in an inning of work. In May he would post a 3.07 ERA in 14.2 innings without allowing a home run, just five walks, and he struck out 21 hitters during the month.
The first half of June almost couldn’t have gone better for Connor Bennett. Leading into the Midwest League All-Star break he threw 7.1 shutout innings with just two walks and 11 strikeouts. Thanks to the break, he only pitched in three games in the second half of the month, but those outings were good for 3.0 hitless innings with four more strikeouts and just one walk. June saw the right-hander post a perfect ERA in 10.1 innings with a 0.68 WHIP, a .348 OPS against him, and 15 strikeouts with just three walks.
July kept things going in the same direction. In his first four outings Connor Bennett tossed 4.1 shutout innings without a walk and with eight more strikeouts. That led to his promotion to Advanced-A Daytona where he joined the Tortugas bullpen. Things didn’t change much after the promotion. He would pitch in six games in July with Daytona and allowed just one run over 8.0 innings. For the month he allowed just one run in 12.1 innings with two walks and 16 strikeouts to go with that 0.73 ERA.
August was more of the same for Bennett. He allowed two earned runs on August 6th, his third appearance of the month. He then didn’t give up another earned run until the final game of the year he pitched in, allowing a run on the 26th against St. Lucie. For the whole month he posted a 2.89 ERA in 9.1 innings with 17 more strikeouts.
For all 2019 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Connor Bennett Scouting Report
Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R
Height: 5′ 9″ | Weight: 212 lbs | Drafted: 34th Round, 2015
Fastball | The pitch works in the 91-93 MPH range and will top out at 95 MPH.
Slider | An above-average offering in the 82-86 MPH range.
Change Up | A third pitch that he will show occasionally, it works in the 80-84 MPH range and trails behind the other two offerings.
From the start of June through the end of the year, Connor Bennett made a mockery of opposing hitters. In 32.0 innings he allowed four earned runs – that’s a 1.13 ERA – and he walked just 10 batters with 48 strikeouts. It was one of the more dominant runs that the farm system has seen from a reliever in recent years.
The raw stuff for Connor Bennett doesn’t jump off of the page. His fastball velocity is fairly average in today’s game, if not a tad below. But he’s also a guy with a high spin rate, which probably lets the pitch play up some from the velocity. The same can be said for his slider, which is another high spin rate pitch he’s got.
The performance from Connor Bennett, particularly after the first two months of the season was outstanding. He cut his walk rate from 12.2% to 7.8% in those two stretches. A high walk rate has been something of an issue in the past for the righty, and while there were improvements in 2019, it’s an area to keep an eye on moving forward.
The step up to Double-A, whether it happens to start 2020 or comes later on in the year, could be telling. Can he continue to dominate, or will more advanced hitters be able to adjust to the deceptiveness of his fastball a bit more than guys at the lower levels have? Will the control continue to be what it was in the second half of 2019? Those are questions that will need to be answered as he continues to progress forward in his career.
Interesting stat on Connor Bennett
From June 2nd through the end of the season he held hitters to a .179/.250/.256 line – that’s a .506 OPS.
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