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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

St. Charles former graduate Wes Benjamin leaves Chicago White Sox organization for South Korea: ‘It’s an experience I’ll never forget.’

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Wes Benjamin is ready to do anything to advance his professional baseball career.

The next leg of that visit will be in South Korea.

St. Charles former graduate Benjamin was released on May 17 by the Chicago White Sox and will report to Katie Wiz, the Korean baseball organization league champion, next week.

“If you knew what was going on in my head over the past week and a half, I was all over the place,” Benjamin said. “I knew I needed to do something to improve my career in the future.”

Several factors were taken into account when making the decision, including the implications of the move for his wife, Brittany, who is a teacher.

“It’s not just about me,” Benjamin said. “It’s about my family. If ever there was a time to do that, the stars would align. She’d be there for most of the season, if not all of it.”

Benjamin signed a minor league deal with the White Sox during the Major League Baseball lockout.

The 28-year-old left-hander didn’t take the team out of Spring Training and reported to Triple-A Charlotte. He made seven starts for the Knights, leading 2–0 with a 3.82 ERA.

“That was the hardest part for me, leaving this outfit I fell in love with and started anew, being the new kid at the lunch table,” Benjamin said. “I am very grateful for the opportunity the Sox gave me to play.

“That was my goal – to help win the game and help win the World Series.”

Benjamin, who turns 29 on July 26, made his MLB debut in 2020. Over the past two seasons, he has appeared in 21 games, earning just over a year’s service time.

On the final day of the 2021 regular season, Benjamin was named for an assignment by the Texas Rangers. He later declared free agency, leaving the only professional organization he had ever known.

KT Wiz showed interest in Benjamin over the winter. KBO rules state that teams can have only three foreign players, two of whom can be pitchers.

Not surprisingly, the team retained all three foreign-origin players after winning the championship last season.

“I don’t blame them for that,” said Benjamin. “It was close, but it wasn’t the right time. Now, it’s the right time.”

The release of William Cuevas opened a space for Benjamin, who spoke to White Sox assistant general manager Chris Getz about his options.

“He always shoots me straight,” Benjamin said. “What I wanted to avoid was a situation like the one that happened in Texas last year, where I would be driven back and forth, and it looked like it might happen again.”

Last season, Benjamin was locked five times between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock. A similar situation could have happened this season between Chicago and Charlotte.

“Getz got it,” said Benjamin. “Such an opportunity doesn’t always come. It didn’t push me in any way. Life goes on regardless,” he said.

“I was grateful to him for his support and understanding of my decision. Who’s to say I won’t be back in the future?”

The first MLB game Benjamin ever played in the White Sox.

“It was very difficult to separate the nostalgia side from the reality side,” Benjamin said. “It was something cool to think about. Unfortunately, that will have to wait.”

Benjamin said that once he arrived in Korea, he would start a minor-league run to ward off Jung and then join Wiz’s starting rotation.

“The excitement, the nerves, the anxiety, but at the end of the day I have to go somewhere new and play baseball,” Benjamin said. “I surround myself with a culture I am not used to.

“It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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