Two months removed from Tommy John surgery, Kansas left-hander Wes Benjamin entered the Major League Baseball draft hoping a team would take a chance on his injured left arm.
The Texas Rangers did just that on Friday, drafting Benjamin in the fifth round with the 156th overall pick. Benjamin became the Kansas baseball program’s highest drafted player since KU coach Ritch Price arrived in Lawrence in 2002.
Benjamin was 4-0 with a 4.22 ERA this past season before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow during a start against Oklahoma on March 28. He underwent Tommy John surgery on April 10. The procedure was performed by James Andrews, a leading specialist in the area of pitcher injuries.
Before Kansas’ NCAA regional appearance in late May, Benjamin told The Star he hoped to get drafted in the early rounds and finish his rehab under the watch of his professional team. The Jayhawks’ season ended last weekend in a loss to Kentucky at the Louisville regional. Before the injury, Benjamin, a native of St. Charles, Ill., was projected to be drafted somewhere in the third to seventh rounds.
“Obviously, this is kind of a nick in the armor,” Benjamin said before the draft. “Hopefully, a team is still interested in me, and hopefully it’s kind of a blessing in disguise to see that maybe some team is able to look past that and really wants you for the long haul.”