Miami Marlins add Taylor Harbin, Joe Benson on minor league deals

J. Meric

After filling several holes on the 25-man roster, the Miami Marlins have signed infielder Taylor Harbin and outfielder Joe Benson to minor league contracts over the past few days. Both signings are expected to give Miami minor league depth.

After finishing 2013 with 100 losses, the Miami Marlins under new General Manager Dan Jennings and President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill promised change. The squad went out and signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and infielders Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, and Rafael Furcal before trading both Logan Morrison and Justin Ruggiano.

Hoping to add depth at the minor league level, the Marlins in recent days announced the signings of infielder Taylor Harbin and outfielder Joe Benson to minor league deals.

Harbin was taken in the eighth round of the 2007 draft by the Diamondbacks, and thrived throughout his time in their system. As CBS Sports pointed out, Harbin regressed last season, batting a mere .231 in 117 games at Triple-A Reno.

The 27-year-old spent his first seven seasons under the Diamondbacks' minor-league system. He batted .231 with five homers and 36 RBI over 364 at-bats at Triple-A Reno last season.

Harbin's best season came in 2012, when he batted .308 with 70 RBIs for in his first full Pacific Coast League season. He has seen time at all of the infield positions with the exception of first base, and can play the outfield if necessary.

Signing Harbin gives the Marlins minor league infield depth, but should he thrive with Triple-A New Orleans, he could see playing time with Miami, whose infield contains several veteran players that may require an occasional day off. Donovan Solano could become the Marlins' utility man off the bench, though Jimmy Paredes, who was acquired off waivers from Houston in November, is also a candidate.

Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish was among the first to report the Benson deal.

Benson only has 71 major league at-bats to his name, all of which came with the Twins in 2011. He will have an opportunity to compete with Brian Bogusevic (acquired from Chicago) and Jake Marisnick for the backup outfield spot.

As Daily Dish explains, Benson was once a top Minnesota prospect and was claimed off of waivers by the Rangers last season.

Benson, who turns 26 in March, was originally drafted in the 2nd round (64th overall) by the Twins in 2006, and was ranked as one of the organization's top prospect for the last few years. According to Baseball America, Benson was the Twins' second best prospect after the 2007 and 2011 seasons, and was ranked within the team's top fifteen prospects from every season from 2006 to 2011. Baseball America also ranked him as the 100th best prospect in baseball after the 2010 season, and the 99th a year later.

Benson made his major league debut in 2011, hitting .239 with 2 RBI in 21 games. He struggled in the minors with the Twins in 2012, and was claimed off waivers by the Rangers last season. In 86 minor league games in the Twins and Rangers systems last season, he hit .215 with 7 HR and 30 RBI. Texas had interest in bringing him back to the organization before he signed with the Marlins, according to a source.

With Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna expected to make up Miami's starting outfield, the right-handed hitting Benson, with a good Spring Training, could make the club. He is a career .253 hitter that may utilize the gaps within Marlins Park.

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