With two 2019 first-round Draft picks hitting in front of him, Griffin Benson looked more than comfortable at the plate.
The Atlanta first base prospect homered on a 3-for-3 night, posting career highs of six RBIs and three runs scored, as Class A Rome routed Charleston, 12-3, on Monday night at State Mutual Stadium.
Video: Braves' Benson smacks three-run tater to right
"I got some good pitches, obviously, to do some work with," Benson said, "and our team played awesomely."
Ahead of Benson in the lineup were Braden Shewmake and Shea Langeliers. Shewmake, the 21st overall pick earlier this month, went 3-for-5 with four runs, two doubles and an RBI in the three-spot in the Braves order. Right behind him was Langeliers. This year's ninth overall pick doubled in a run, scored twice and walked twice. The highly touted pair set the table for Benson.
The Texas native is familiar with Langeliers, having played travel ball with him throughout high school for the Arlington A's in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. So the first-rounder's subsequent assignment to the South Atlantic League pleased them both.
"We basically talked about how we're back together again and we were excited to get back on the same field," Benson said. "It's good to have a familiar face back with you."
Gameday box score
In the first inning, the 6-foot-5 switch hitter took a 2-1 fastball on the outer part of the plate from right-hander Alexander Vizcaino to left field for an RBI double, plating Langeliers. After Shewmake doubled and Langeliers walked on four pitches in the second, Benson deposited Vizcaino's 3-0 offering over the fence in right for his seventh dinger of the season.
"I went 3-0 and Tui [Braves manager Matt Tuiasosopo] gave me the green light down there. I got a pitch I could do something with and I hit it out," Benson said, who added his skipper occasionally allows "the guys he has confidence in" to swing on a 3-0 pitch if they see fit.
The 21-year-old drove Shewmake home again with a sacrifice fly to left in the fourth, walked in the sixth and plated Shewmake with a single to center in the eighth.
Before Monday, Benson hadn't had more than four RBIs in a game. The 2016 23rd-round pick upped his average to .222 with 27 extra-base hits, including seven homers, and 40 RBIs in 68 South Atlantic League games. In 2018, Benson played 35 games between Rome and Rookie Advanced Danville, batting .256/.338/.403 with 12 extra-base hits, including three homers, and 16 RBIs.
2019 MiLB include
Langeliers, a catcher from Baylor, has amassed three hits and five walks in his first eight professional at-bats with a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored.
"Being with him again is nice," Benson said. "And I just met Shew and he's a great dude also. Just been a lot of fun meeting them and playing with them. Him and Shea are tearing it up right now."
Shewmake, a shortstop from Texas A&M, has gone 9-for-20 with six runs and three RBIs in five games.
Benson's noticed a difference in the Rome lineup since Langeliers and Shewmake made their professional debuts.
"Some guys have been making some mistakes recently and everyone's been capitalizing on it," he said. "They're seeing a lot of pitches and having good at-bats."