Andrew Benintendi's Debut Should Give the Red Sox a Boost
Nobody will ever accuse Dave Dombrowski of being a coward.
The Red Sox general manager has a propensity for dealing his top prospects for pitching at the trade deadline every season, but Dombrowski mostly stayed quiet after acquiring Drew Pomeranz before all the deadline-day madness began.
Andrew Benintendi, ESPN’s third-best and Baseball America’s ninth-best midseason prospect, was the subject of many rumors leading up to yesterday’s deadline, but he stayed put as a key piece in the Red Sox system. And just eight short hours after the deadline passed, he got the call up to Boston from Double-A Portland.
The former University of Arkansas outfielder ascended to stardom in his junior season and was subsequently selected 7th overall by the Boston Red Sox in last year’s MLB Draft.
Since then, he has demolished the opposition at each stop in the minor leagues.
In 151 career games across four levels, he has a triple-slash line of .312/.392/.540 while contributing 20 home runs, 107 runs batted in, and 26 stolen bases. Maybe the most impressive aspect of his approach at the plate is his plate discipline; For his career, he's struck out 63 times and walked 74 times, which may be why the Sox were comfortable calling him up directly from Double-A.
As recently as last year, the Mets promoted Michael Conforto to the majors from Double-A, while the Cubs did the same with Kyle Schwarber. Both of these players were selected in the top 10 picks of the 2014 draft and reached the majors in the following season.
Benintendi was taken in the top 10 of the 2015 draft, and he now follows the same trajectory. He's the first Red Sox prospect to get called up directly from Portland during the season since Josh Reddick in 2009.
A natural center fielder, he has recently started seeing playing time in left as preparation for his call up. Although he's only played four games in left, he's regarded as a solid defender but will need to adjust to the Green Monster. Although he plays capable defense, he's now in Boston for his bat. In fact, his last game as a minor leaguer saw him go 4-for-5 with 2 homers, 2 doubles, and 5 RBI.
What Can We Expect?
As fans, we tend to have unrealistic expectations whenever a top prospect finally reaches the major leagues. However, from Boston’s perspective, there was no point in rushing him to the bigs and stunting his development if he wasn't going to get every-day playing time, which means he's probably not getting the call to ride the pine. He's not necessarily blocked from an every-day role either -- fan favorite Brock Holt is best suited to a super-sub utility role, Bryce Brentz should only start against left-handed pitchers going forward, and lefty-masher Chris Young is still on the disabled list.
Baseball America’s 2015 College Player of the Year has the long-term ceiling of a middle-of-the-order hitter, but he should slot into the bottom third of the Boston lineup for now and provide a major boost to an offense that has scuffled at times in recent weeks.
And fans of baseball should be really excited.