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.

Xander Bogaerts has finally arrived

Xander Bogaerts burst on to the scene in 2013, showing incredible poise in the big leagues during the Red Sox run to the championship that year. He set his bar too high during that run, as a matter of fact, as he followed it up with a disappointing 2014 season in which he finished with a .240 average, 12 home runs and 138 strikeouts, per ESPN. So, what was different last year? The Red Sox brought in one Stephen Drew to play shortstop, because Xander was struggling defensively at the time. He made 10 errors in 44 games before Drew came in, according to ESPN.

That move was not good for his confidence, to say the least, as he struggled the rest of Xander Boagertsthe way. He couldn’t break out of a months-long slump, and his defense was still bad, as he made 10 errors at 3rd in 99 games in 2014. That’s changing, it would seem, though, as Xander seems to be in a more comfortable place. He’s hitting .291 right now, and he’s capable of drilling the ball. One of the highlights of Tuesday’s 1-0 win was Xander Bogaerts smacking a double off the center field wall in the 7th. He would then come around to score on Rusney Castillo’s RBI single later in the inning.

And it’s not just getting it done with his bat. He’s getting it done with his glove, as well. He’s made 3 more plays than the average shortstop, which ranks 9th among active shortstops according to the Globe. He’s certainly progressed from last year, and it seems that he’s back on track after struggling so much last season. This kid is still 22, and while he’s not a superstar yet, I think he’s finally in a comfortable position. He showed us flashes of what he had in 2013, but he has a chance this season to really tap into his full potential. There’s no impending Stephen Drew signing this year to hurt his confidence, so this is his year to really make the shortstop position his. Hopefully, he can keep this up.

How the Red Sox can save the season

The Red Sox have been having a rough time of it so far this season—and the players acknowledge that. The problem is no one on the team has been able to do much about it so far. They’ve been struggling in every facet of the game, from pitching to hitting, and especially defense.

Lack of consistency has been a problem so far – every time the Red Sox seem to take a Red Soxstep forward, they promptly take 2 steps back. The Red Sox posted a minus 47 run differential through their first 50 games, and the Houston Astros in 2005 are the only team in history to overcome such a run differential and have a successful season according to NESN. It also marks the team’s worst start since 1960.

So, how can the Red Sox turn things around? Consistency. It won’t happen overnight, but the Red Sox have shown that they have the talent in every facet of the game to make a run in a lackluster AL East, albeit at different points of the season, and rarely have they had a complete performance where they’ve had everyone clicking at the same time. I don’t know if making a big splash at the trade deadline will help – I do believe the Red Sox have the personnel in house to win the division. Plus, I believe that gutting the farm system to make a run this year isn’t the way to go. The Red Sox have a strong foundation in their farm system. The ideal way for the Red Sox to get back into the race to me would be for the guys on the roster now to step their game up. One game won’t change anything right now, but the way the team gets back into this is to take a page out of the Patriots book, and just do their jobs. “Less talk, play more,” as Dustin Pedroia said. That’s really all it takes. I just hope these guys are capable of that.

Eduardo Rodriguez Shines in Debut

Eduardo Rodriguez made his major league debut, and it was exactly what the Red Sox needed from their young gun. Rodriguez pitched 7.2 strong innings, allowing 0 runs on just 3 hits and 7 strikeouts. So, how exactly was he able to do it?

According to NESN, he used 29 pitches the first time through the Texas Rangers lineup,Eduardo Rodriguez and of those 29 pitches, 24 were fastballs. And he had success with his fastball because he was able to locate his pitches extremely well. The 2nd time through the lineup, he mixed in his secondary pitches to great effect, throwing only 20 fastballs in 40 pitches through the 2nd time around, per NESN. The 3rd time around, he went back to the fastball and again, he located the ball extremely well. That was critical because once you start getting into the later innings, you get tired and your velocity isn’t as sharp, so location becomes even more important.

And, of course, NESN is quick to point out that some of the credit has to go to Blake Swihart, who looked like a veteran in calling the game last night, which I would agree with. But it ultimately came down to Rodriguez executing his pitches, which he did a fantastic job with all night long against a tough Texas Rangers lineup.

I sincerely hope the Red Sox keep this guy up and give him more of a chance to show his stuff. He doesn’t solve all the Red Sox problems, but one of the main concerns is the starting pitching right now, and he looks like he could fill in quite nicely as a big league starter. This is only one start, but if he keeps this up, he could well turn into a top-of-the-rotation type pitcher. He definitely has the stuff to accomplish that, should he keep this up. Of course, the reverse could happen and  he could struggle mightily in his next few starts, but I hope not. This kid has the stuff to be great.

Josh Ockimey Looking to Impress in 2015

josh ockimey

Last year in the MLB draft, the Boston Red Sox snagged two of the top power hitting first baseman available— Sam Travis and Josh Ockimey. While Travis established himself as a first baseman by playing well in the Cape Cod League and at Indiana, Ockimey was a little more unknown, drafted out of high school.
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Arguably possessing the best raw power tools in the Red Sox farm system, Boston swooped up Ockimey in the fifth round after hearing about his 420-foot home runs in high school while hitting from the left side of the plate.josh ockimey

A top recruit of Indiana University, Boston not only took away their star first baseman, but their first baseman of the future. Attending high school in Philadelphia, it makes sense why Josh Ockimey drew comparisons to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.

“I think I have always been considered a power hitter,” Ockimey told Yawkey Way Report. “Even throughout my little league and high school days.”

At 6-foot-3 230 pounds now, Ockimey has the frame of an excellent power hitter and could even stand to put on more weight over the years to build power.
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Playing high school baseball in the north, Ockimey was forced to make a huge jump to professional baseball when the Red Sox assigned him to the Gulf Coast League.

“The toughest part of the transfer from high school to professional baseball was realizing that it’s an ‘everyday job,'” Ockimey said reflecting on the season. “I mean that as that it is my profession I chose to ‘live it’. Also consistency— in order to move higher in the minor leagues you have to be more consistent in your game.”

Making the transition to the pros was challenging for Ockimey, like it is for many young talents who struggle at first. Hitting .188 this past summer, he did manage to draw 14 walks, showing the potential for plate discipline.
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The first year of professional ball is never easy for young prospects. For example, Bryce Brentz hit .198 in the Lowell Spinners back in 2010 and the next season, he hit 30 home runs. Typically, pro players fare much better in their second pro seasons. Putting in extra work in the off season allows them to compete at such an elite level.

“What I worked on most this off season was overall body strength and conditioning. Also, I worked on consistency in my swing.”
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For Ockimey, it is his bat that will carry him through the ranks of the Red Sox farm system. Possibly slated to begin the 2015 season in short-season Lowell, he will have a chance to prove himself there and Boston is confident that he could develop into an excellent big league power hitter down the road— if all goes according to plan.

“My goals this season are to improve my game offensively, defensively and mentally. Offensively by being more consistent with the bat, defensively by making more plays and being quicker around the bat and mentally by having a more experienced professional approach to the game.”