Andrew Benintendi Looking to Take Next Step

Portland Sea Dogs outfielder Andrew Benintendi, one of the top prospects in the Red Sox system, has gotten off to a slow start in Portland. Benintendi is rated the 15th best prospect by Baseball America. This is his second year in minor league baseball following being the first round pick by the Sox out of the University of Arkansas in 2015.

In 198 at bats in 2015, Benintendi hit 11 homers with a .313 batting average. FollowingAndrew Benintendi this season, people were aware of what he could do. He showed decent speed as well with 10 steals, only being caught three times. With his strong first season, many expected him to build upon that in his second year.

Benintendi started this season at High A Salem. In 135 at bats, he hit .341 with one homer and stole 8 bases, only getting caught two times. Following his start at Salem, Benintendi received the promotion to Portland. While Triple A is the highest minor league baseball game, Double A always seems to be better baseball to watch because of the youth in the game rather than the career minor league players that you tend to see at Pawtucket. With the promotion, Benintendi was at a much improved level. Would he continue to grow and turn into an elite prospect?

So far at Portland, Benintendi is off to a slow start, batting just .214 in 42 at bats with no homers. He has also has stolen three bases but been caught stealing twice, showing the improvement in catching at this level. His struggles don’t necessarily suggest anything as it is still early but it is a cause for concern as he is likely a guy the Sox are considering trading at the deadline. Will Benintendi turn it around in time for the Sox to shop him as an elite prospect?

In these next few weeks, Benintendi will turn the corner. He has started to show flashes of doing so in his last three games, two of them multi hit games. As a groomed hitter coming from the college game and being 21 years old, his path to the major leagues will be much shorter than most prospects as he adjusts to the higher levels quickly. However, Sox fans should be hoping he’s wearing another uniform in return for quality starting pitching.

 

The Importance of the First Round Pick

jason placeIn Major League Baseball, the most coveted pick in any draft is the first round pick. The performance of the first round pick is enough to make-or-break a successful draft.

In 2009 when the Boston Red Sox took Reymond Fuentes in the first round, they did not have a good draft. Sure Fuentes made it to the big leagues last year for the Padres, but he is not the superstar Boston was banking on him becoming — neither is anyone Boston took in that draft as a matter of fact.
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Only two players Boston drafted in those 50 rounds have played for the Red Sox, which makes it clear it was a bad draft. Both the 2nd rounder and 20th rounder have recorded time in the big leagues as well as an undrafted free agent — Alex Wilson, Alex Hassan, and Dan Butler.

In 2005, Boston had five first round picks, making it a great draft. Picking Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, and Michael Bowden; it was certainly a draft to remember.
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Although Ellsbury and Buchholz emerged as star players, Lowrie is an above-average big league shortstop, and both Hansen and Bowden have contributed at the big league level (Hansen pitched for the Red Sox the year he was drafted), not a single player Boston drafted after that first round ever played a game for the Red Sox. While a few guys who did not sign made it, Pedro Alvarez being one of them, it was still a highly successful draft for Boston. Luis Exposito did sign with Boston in the 31st round, but was claimed off waivers by Baltimore where he made his big league debut.

The only other player to play a game for the Red Sox signed in 2005 was undrafted free agent Hunter Jones who surrendered 13 runs on 12.2 innings for Boston back in 2009. Still, it was considered a great draft by Boston despite virtually nothing after the first round.
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Not to say that all late round picks will not make it, because that is completely untrue, but scoring big in the first round is definitely the most important aspect of the MLB draft. Right now, it is too early to tell whether or not the past few years have been good drafts for the Red Sox — mostly because players have not received enough time to develop yet.

The reason why first round picks are so important is because they are where most of the star power yields from. Players there are drafted for their raw talent but must prove they have the work ethic to succeed. Work ethic is by far the most important aspect of the draft — if a player does not work hard they will not make it to the show.