Red Sox draft focus: Andrew Benintendi
Throughout the majority of the “mock draft season,” in which baseball pundits attempt to predict the unpredictable and project the results of the MLB draft, the Red Sox have been connected to two names. Those two names belong to Alex Bregman, a shortstop from Louisiana State University, and Carson Fulmer, a right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt University. However, with increasing doubts about Fulmer’s ability to start in the majors and with Bregman’s availability with the seventh overall pick, a new name has entered the mix.
Up until yesterday, nearly every reputable mock draft had projected the Red Sox to select either Bregman or Fulmer, with a few suggesting that high school outfielder Daz Cameron is also on Boston’s watch list. But yesterday, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs released the latest version of his mock draft, which projected the Red Sox to select Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi with the seventh pick in the draft.
This would have been an enormous surprise just a few months, or maybe even weeks, ago. However, the perfect combination of injuries and ineffectiveness from several highly-touted draft prospects and an excellent spring for Benintendi has vaulted the Arkansas sophomore up draft boards.
Entering the season, most saw Benintendi as a potential top of the order hitter with great speed and contact skills. That’s a valuable player without question, but Benintendi’s stock has significantly risen after showing surprising power for the Razorbacks this season. Named both the SEC Player of the Year and the national player of the year, Benintendi wrecked opposing pitching this season to the tune of a .391/.492/.738 slash line alongside 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases.
Benintendi is the classic “helium” prospect, who has soared up draft boards due to an excellent performance and now profiles as one of the more exciting players in the draft. He has been compared to Jacoby Ellsbury and, while expecting a career parallel to Ellsbury’s would be setting oneself up for disappointment, Benintendi does have a similar skill set.
It’s unclear if Benintendi is Boston’s preference with the seventh pick, but McDaniel suggests that he is the most likely option here if Bregman is off the board (the mock draft has Bregman going fourth overall to the Rangers). He has the raw tools to be one of the better players in this draft and, despite being just a college sophomore, has an advanced approach and potential to move quickly through an organization. Benintendi is one of the more intriguing players that will likely be available with the seventh pick and he appears to be a legitimate candidate to enter the Red Sox farm system this June.