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.

 

Andrew Benintendi Already Turning Heads

Andrew Benintendi can play. The Red Sox first pick in the 2015 MLB Draft is already showing the organization that he has some serious potential in his first few months as a member of the Red Sox organization.

Right now, Andrew Benintendi is with the Class A Short-Season Lowell Spinners, but is Andrew Benintendiheading for a late season promotion to Low-A Greenville with the way he has performed so far, according to NESN. He’s shown a little bit of everything in Lowell, hitting .278 with 7 home runs and 6 stolen bases so far in 31 games with the Spinners. He hit 2 home runs on Tuesday, giving him 3 in 3 games. And he’s drawing positive reviews from his coaches. Spinners hitting coach Iggy Saurez said that it seems like nothing bothers him, and wondering how he can be so calm amidst the hype that being picked 7th overall can surely bring, according to NESN.

This speed/power combo that Andrew Benintendi has shown is one of the main reasons the Red Sox were looking at him in the first place. Also worth noting is his plate discipline – he has 23 walks to 15 strikeouts with the Red Sox organization.

Benintendi also mentioned that he is learning a lot, according to NESN, which is a good thing for him, obviously. It’s great to see him putting in the work, and he seems genuinely excited to try and get to the big-league Red Sox, which is a good thing. NESN points out, and rightfully so, that it’s hard to pinpoint where his ceiling is right now, but I think it seems pretty high at the moment. He’s got the work ethic, and the talent to go with it, and I’m really excited to see where this kid can go.

It’s still a while before he’s major-league ready, but if he keeps going like this, then he’ll get there sooner rather than later. It’ll still be interesting to see where he ends up in a couple years, with the Red Sox outfielder situation at the moment, but he has the talent to make an impact. Assuming he keeps putting in the work, which won’t be a problem, I don’t think.

Andrew Benintendi a Solid Pick at 7

When the Red Sox picked Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi with the 7th pick in the MLB Draft on Monday, a lot of Red Sox Nation was left wondering “Why not Carson Fulmer?” The short answer to that question is this: Whoever the Red Sox picked wouldn’t make an immediate impact.

It’s important to remember that the MLB Draft is different than the NBA or NFL Drafts in Andrew Benintendithat picks will not make an immediate impact. The selection of Andrew Benintendi was one for the future. Right now, the Red Sox have a surplus of outfielders, but it 2 or 3+ years, when this kid is ready to make the jump to the majors, who knows where the Red Sox will be with their outfield situation. The only 3 guys locked up long term are Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig. The issue with Craig is he hasn’t been performing up to what we expected when we got him, so who knows if we’ll actually keep him through 2017, which is when he’s under contract until. And Jackie Bradley Jr. has a great glove, but a bad bat, but I could see him being used as trade bait to bring in some rotation help.

Now to Benintendi himself – he has the tools to be great. He burst on to the scene this year, after he struggled with injuries last year, according to Bleacher Report. His draft profile rates him at a 60 with hitting, 50 with power and fielding, and a 60 with his arm. He put up a .390 average, 18 home runs, 13 doubles, 54 RBI’s, and 22 stolen bases with Arkansas this past season as part of a run that led him to the SEC and National Player of the Year awards. The kid has the tools to be a star, and the Red Sox see that. Besides, the team has so many holes at the moment that it’s hard to nail down one particular area of need.

It’s hard to see how this guy is going to perform 2-3 years down the road when he’s ready to come up to the majors, but I like the pick. I just hope he proves me right.

Looking at the Red Sox Draft Strategy

The Red Sox hold the 7th pick in tonight’s MLB draft, which marks the second time in 3 years the Red Sox will pick at that spot. In 2013, the Red Sox selected pitcher Trey Ball, a 6’6″ lefty from Indiana, who has had his struggled in his minor league career so far (4.67 ERA in 67 starts since being drafted). He’s only 20 years old, so he’s still got time to turn things around.

But, if recent history is any guide, 7 could still be a lucky number. Here are a few of the Red Soxnames to be taken 7th in recent years: Clayton Kershaw, Troy Tulowitski and Matt Harvey. So, where should the Red Sox focus be in the draft tonight? On picking the best player available. Why? The Red Sox have so many holes right now, it’s hard to pinpoint one area of need at the moment. Every facet of the game has struggled this year at different points, so it’s hard to say they should focus on offense or pitching over the other.

2 names being thrown around are 2 former Red Sox picks from the 2012 draft, shortstop Alex Bregman and pitcher Carson Fulmer. Both of these guys are projected top 10 picks this year, and both could be on the board for the Red Sox. Bregman is batting .312 with a .406 on base percentage and .534 slugging percentage at Louisiana State University, per Masslive.com. He also has 22 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs, and 37 steals in 47 tries this season. Once he gets to the Major League level, he could be a big impact player. So could Fulmer, though – he has a 13-2 record with a 1.82 ERA, 152 strikeouts and only 46 walks in 114.0 innings per MassLive.

Granted, neither  would make an immediate impact at the Major League level, but I would be happy with the Red Sox picking either guy. The Red Sox could pick an outfielder (Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benitendi could be available), which is the one area the Red Sox have some depth, at least when everyone is healthy. That has been a problem so far, with Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava both injured right now. Who knows what the Red Sox do, with so many areas to address, but it seems pretty hard for them to go wrong on paper. The draft kicks off tonight at 7 pm.

Why Karsten Whitson Might Be the Red Sox Best Draft Pick

karsten whitsonOn day three of the MLB draft the Boston Red Sox made ripples when they drafted Karsten Whitson in the 11th around. Whitson, 22, was drafted ninth overall in the 2010 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres. He turned down a $2.1 million signing bonus in order to go to the University of Florida, a.k.a. the Florida Gators. This came after he went to their training facility and felt as though he was not physically ready for professional career. Whitson could have the highest upside out of every single Boston pick this year.

As a freshman Whitson was one thing and one thing only— dominant. As a true freshman he boasted a 2.40 ERA in 19 starts while racking up 92 strikeouts to just 28 walks in 97 1/3 innings pitched. After putting up a 3.51 ERA as a sophomore, Whitson headed to the prestigious Cape Cod week to play for the Orleans Firebirds. After pitching in just two games in relief he was done for the summer. Originally thought to just be shoulder fatigue, he ended up needing to go under the knife for shoulder surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews. Thankfully there was no rotator cuff or labrum damage and he was ready to pitch in the 2014 season after sitting out in 2013. In the 2013 MLB draft Whitson was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 37th round, but nothing came of it. This season, he faced some command problems walking 23 hitters while fanning just 21, despite posting a 3.86 ERA and 14 appearances nine of which were starts. Still though, this is great after missing a whole year for him to come back and pitch as well as he did.

Despite not pitching like the stud he may be this year, the potential is still there for him;Boston got a steal in the 11th round. This is especially good since Boston would not have received a penalty if they did not sign the medically-red shirted junior. Also, since Boston drafted high ceiling guys over high floor guys, they will be strapped for cash as far as signing bonuses go. Whitson is in a different category of slot bonus; in rounds 11 to 40 Boston has $100,000 to work with per pick. It is unclear what kind of a bonus he will receive, but expect it to be greater than the $100,000 slot mark and much less than the $2.1 million he turned down back in 2010. About $400-500k should do the trick since Whitson wants to sign with Boston.

As far as a scouting report goes Whitson has a fastball that sat comfortably at 90-92 at the beginning of the year, but as time went on and he built up arm strength, Whitson hit 96mph on the radar gun. He also has a solid slider which tops out at around 84mph and a changeup which can drop up to 15mph slower than his fastest fastball.

Overall, it appears as though Boston may have hit the jackpot once again. As Whitson pitches more and more and becomes comfortable throwing, it will be clear Boston made the right pick which will be arguably the best pick they made the entire draft.
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Red Sox Draft Pick Ian Rice Playing In The Cape Cod League

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In the 2014 MLB draft, the Boston Red Sox selected two players out of Chipola College in Marianna, Florida: Danny Mars and Ian Rice. Mars, an outfielder, was picked in the sixth round and Rice, a catcher, fell to the 21st round. Mars came to Massachusetts to sign his contract, and Rice came so that he could play in the Cape Cod League for the Cotuit Kettleers.
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So far this year in Cotuit, Rice has collected a hit in his six at-bats as he serves as one of the team’s catchers. The other catcher, Casey Schroeder, also went to junior college this past year and was selected in the 14th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics. Rice will see more action as the season progresses, and should be able to put up some impressive numbers and the same goes for Schroeder.

As far as a scouting report goes, Rice is known for his power. Smacking ten home runs this spring and leading the Cal Ripken Collegiate League in home runs last summer Rice impressed. Along with his .500 OBP for Chipola, yes, Rice walked about twice as often as he struck out which shows he has a great eye at the plate. On the base paths, Rice is not the fastest man alive since he is a catcher. Behind the dish, Rice has been working hard to improve his defense. With this being said, he could one day be a good defensive catcher at this rate.
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Given that he is committed to the University of Houston next year, Rice definitely has some options and leverage over Boston. Ranked as the 303rd best draft prospect by Baseball America, it seems strange that Rice fell all the way down to the 21st round. Sign-ability does not seem like it could be an issue, but it will take more than $100k to lure him away from college. As the season wears on in the Cape, Rice plays well, and the deadline to sign comes closer, expect Boston to up the ante and give Rice a realistic offer. Realistically for Rice, Boston should be able to swoop him up with about $300k.
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Overall, this will be an interesting one to see unfold. Ian Rice will be a fun player to watch in the Cape. Expect this one to come down to the wire whether or not he signs with the Red Sox as it will likely be announced on the day of the deadline. Rice is definitely a player Boston needs to make a priority in signing since his potential is far too great to pass up.