The wait is finally over and the Red Sox have made their first round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. With the seventh overall pick, Boston has selected Andrew Benintendi, an outfielder from the University of Arkansas.
Perhaps more than any other player in the 2015 draft, Benintendi has flown up draft boards this spring. Considered a potential third-round pick entering the season, Benintendi broke out with a huge season, slashing .380/.489/.715 with 23 stolen bases and a nation-leading 19 home runs for the Razorbacks.
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Sporting a smooth left-handed swing, Benintendi has the potential to develop into a five-tool player with the Red Sox. He has played center field at Arkansas and, with his plus speed, he has the potential to stick in center going forward. Benintendi has always displayed an aptitude for contact hitting but power was a recent addition to his game this season and it’s tough to determine whether he’ll continue to hit for such power.
If he is able to continue such strong performance at the plate, Benintendi could develop into an excellent center fielder both offensively and defensively. However, the concerns regarding Benintendi all hinge on his ability to stick in center. On the chance that he is forced to slide to right field (where he would likely play in Fenway Park due to his athleticism), Benintendi could become a “tweener,” who cannot handle center field defensively or a corner outfield spot offensively.
Still, the Red Sox were strongly rumored to be pursuing a bat with their first-round pick and they got one of the best available in Benintendi. Interestingly, Benintendi is a rare draft-eligible sophomore and, at just 20 years old, is younger than almost all other college draftees. There are doubts about his future performance, but in a draft devoid of elite talent, it’s hard to fault the Red Sox here.