Red Sox: Andrew Benintendi is no reason to rush Yoan Moncada

Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; World infielder Yoan Moncada before the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; World infielder Yoan Moncada before the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The early success of Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi does not mean the team should look to bring up top prospect Yoan Moncada.

The instant impact Andrew Benintendi has had on Boston’s offense will likely encourage fans to desire Yoan Moncada’s promotion in a similar rushed manner.

While it is true, Benintendi really has been a difference maker in his incredibly short career, rushing another top prospect and expecting a smooth transition is unlikely.

First off, there are some major differences between Benintendi and Moncada. Mainly, Benintendi, who grew up in the states, played two years of college baseball at Arkansas before getting drafted No.7 overall by the Red Sox. Though there are some that might scoff at the idea of comparing college and minor league baseball, the comparison is much closer than the experience a player like Moncada garnered in Cuba. Furthermore, Benintendi still appeared in 151 minor league games, where he batted .312 with 20 homer and over 100 RBI and runs scored while only striking out 63 times.

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Yoan Moncada has now played in 176 games in the minor leagues where he has batted .289 and hit 20 home runs and drove in 94 runs. Most impressively, he has scored 146 runs to go along with 93 stolen bases while only being thrown out 14 times.

But, a concern I have (and I should say it is a growing concern) Moncada has stuck out 189 times in 176 games, and since his promotion to AA Portland, he has 46 times in 34 games or over 30% of his plate appearances.

Now, I’m not trying to give the idea he will be a bust, but there are some things Red Sox Nation should be aware of, especially given the fact he now ranks as the No.1 overall prospect in baseball, giving fans the idea he must be a Big League-ready no-doubter.

That being said, there is hardly any doubt the Cuban is a huge talent with a truly enormous ceiling. But, the 21-year-old Moncada does come with a much higher bust possibility then the aforementioned 22-year-old Benintendi. This is largely do to his lack of “American baseball” experience, in addition to high strikeout rate and rather average defensive skills.

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To put it simply, Moncada has one of the highest ceilings of any player in the minors while having quite a low floor as well. Benintendi on the other hand has a solid-to high ceiling, while still having a very solid floor thanks to his all-around defensive game, hit tool, eye at the plate, and “Baseball IQ”.

Even if Benintendi doesn’t smack over 20 bombs a year (though I think he will, and he should have had his first one on Tuesday) he looks to be a very valuable player regardless. And, if he can – keep your pants on – he’ll be the Tom Brady looking, second coming of Mookie Betts.

Moncada on the other hand, who if he continues to strikeout at a very high rate – and again he’s only played in A ball and 34 games in AA – while not being able to put up big power numbers (20 home runs in 176 games, roughly 15-18 over a season) could be far less exciting player than the buzz that currently surrounds him now suggests. Not to mention, he has struggled defensively since switching positions. Though, his speed doesn’t look to be going anywhere, unless of course he does take over at third and decides to bulk-up, or he’s hampered by say an ankle sprain.

In 2006 when Dustin Pedroia played his first 31 games for the Red Sox, he hit for a .191 average. In 2014 Xander Bogaerts, after making some nice contributions in the 2013 playoffs, struggled to the tune of a .240 average and 138 strikeouts while providing below-average defense in his 144 game first full season.

Jackie Bradley Jr. struggled even more than Bogaerts and Pedroia combined in his first two seasons. He hit .189 and .198 respectively before figuring it out in the latter part of 2015.

The Red Sox have had a history of “rushing” players to The Show. Granted that term is more of an opinion, but usually a certain amount of exposure and experience with more advanced pitching is preferred. Similar to Betts, who played in 299 minor league games and posted a .316 average, or Benintendi, who played in 151 minor league games in addition to college.

Betts had a perfect, seamless transition to the big leagues where he hit .291 in almost 200 games in his first two seasons, while Benintendi has been conditioned to do the same.

That is why Moncada should be left to learn in the minors for now. The early success of Benintendi is not another reason to call him up, but a reminder of the successful formula of promotion, as well as how many if not most of the Red Sox top promoted prospects went on to struggle at least in the early going.

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There is no need to bring Moncada up, Boston’s offense is not the reason for this season’s struggles and there isn’t even the most remote of guarantees he would prove effective immediately.