Gus Benusa: The One Who Got Away

While Pittsburghers like to see local athletes succeed, some connected with Duquesne have mixed emotions about Riverview center fielder Karl Benusa who had signed a National Letter of Intent with DU this past fall. In June 2009, he was drafted in the 8th round by the San Francisco Giants making Benusa the first DU recruit to be drafted. He's also the 1st to sign with a MLB team instead.

Karl "Gus" Benusa was one of three players to sign with Duquesne coach Mike Wilson in the early period. Unfortunately the others, outfielder Nick Berger from Central Catholic H.S. in Pittsburgh and Plum's pitcher / infielder Richard Navari, will apparently not be enrolling at the Bluff this fall. The Dukes did sign four more guys in May. (See below.)

As a junior, Benusa hit .577 with four home runs and 27 RBI. This spring, Gus led the WPIAL with a .638 batting average (30/47). He had seven home runs and 21 RBI and a 3-0 record as a starting pitcher and was named the WPIAL* Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year.

After the senior high school season, Benusa was set to return to the Pittsburgh Bulldogs summer league team prior to enrolling at Duquesne in the fall. Then on Wednesday, June 10, 2009, the second day of this year's Major League Baseball (MLB) draft, the San Francisco Giants selected Mr. Benusa in the eighth (of 50) round. Bill Beckner, Jr. reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the Riverview star had been projected as a mid-round selection with some expecting him not to be chosen. Riverview head coach Rich Griser didn't agree.

Greiser, who is also a Tampa Bay scout, told Nicholas Tolomeo of the Post-Gazette:

    "I knew I had a special ballplayer. He is a five-tool player and right here I knew I had a prospect all along. When you get scouts at the game and they are making three or four trips to his games and then new scouts are coming in, you know you really got a player."

Less than a week later, Benusa signed with the Giants for a reported $125,000 bonus. His learning at Duquesne, or some other college, would have to wait.

His contract does include a provision if pro baseball doesn't work, the team will pay for his college education. He told Tolomeo, "... hopefully I won't need it."

On Thursday, June 18th, Gus was on his way to the Giants rookie league team in Scottsdale, Ariz. Things were still happening in Pittsburgh, though. On the 21st of May, both the PG and Trib named Benusa to their area all-star team with the Trib naming Gus its Player of the Year. The PG gave the nod to Hopewell pitcher Max Vogel who is headed to Winthrop University in South Carolina.

Gus has got off to a good start in the Arizona League. (more on that later)


Notes

  • On May 13, 2009, Duquesne announced the signing of Ryan Balbierz (Hamburg, N.Y./Frontier), Tyler Bowen (Bethel Park, Pa./ Bethel Park), Jackson Boyd (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) and Robert Corsi (Oceanport, N.J./Shore Regional)
  • The WPIAL is the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, the governing body for most of southern western Pennsylania's interscholastic sports.

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