Red Sox Andrew Benintendi becomes top prospect over Moncada
Baseball America published their top 10 Boston Red Sox prospects list yesterday, putting Andrew Benintendi above Yoan Moncada. Really, was there any doubt?
After the Red Sox tried out both Benintendi and Moncada in respective spots on the roster that have been notoriously hard for Boston to fill, Benintendi’s play demonstrated why Baseball America made their selections.
Even Sam Galanis of NESN said that the decision to have Benintendi top the list “isn’t all that surprising. Although Benintendi is only a year older than Moncada, he proved in 2016 that he’s more than ready for the big leagues, while Moncada struggled in his call-up.”
Both Benintendi and Moncada made the move from Double-A Portland in the Red Sox farm system to the majors with the hope that they could kindle some fire in left field and third base, respectively. Benintendi was able to do that, but Moncada was not.
At 22 years of age, Benintendi’s first chance on the big club was a major league success. In 34 games, he hit a slash line of .295/.359/.476 with two home runs and 14 RBIs, mostly from the bottom of the lineup. Benintendi immediately became the darling of Red Sox Nation by giving stability to left field, using his lefty bat on offense while also flashing his glove on defense in some highlight reel moments. He would have started even more games for the Red Sox had he not sprained his left knee at the end of August. Benintendi was activated in the middle of September and remained the everyday starter till the end of the season.
Benintendi’s play showed passion and potential for possible All-Star appearances. With other youthful players like Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field and Mookie Betts in right field, the three men will be a very potent outfield combination for a very long time.
The same could not be said for Yoan Moncada.
Moncada was called up in early September for much the same reason as Benintendi. Third base was giving the Red Sox fits, between Pablo Sandoval‘s poor play and surgery keeping him out of the lineup and Travis Shaw continuing to slump. The American League East division title was up for grabs, but the Red Sox still struggled to find someone who could stabalize the role as well as Benintendi did in left field. It was thought that since Moncada was considered the top prospect in the Red Sox organization at the time, ranked even higher than Benintendi, that he would get the opportunity to create that same magic.
Instead, Moncada was reassigned to the minors at the end of the month. The Red Sox brought him back on October 12th for the playoff roster, but he had no chance at seeing the field after what he did in September. Moncada hit .211, striking out 12 times in only 19 at-bats. Between looking completely mystified by MLB pitching and some base running mistakes, the experiment at third base was shortlived.
Baseball America’s current top ten Red Sox prospects list is as follows:
- Andrew Benintendi, OF
- Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B
- Rafael Devers, 3B
- Michael Kopech, RHP
- Jason Groome, LHP
- Sam Travis, 1B
- Mauricio Dubon, SS
- Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
- Bobby Dalbec, 3B
- Roniel Raudes, RHP
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The list actually shows more than just Benintendi’s ascension in the ranks; it also shows Moncada’s possible descent, if things don’t change quickly enough. Devers appears to be right on his tail. Since the Red Sox won’t be needing a second baseman for at least another couple of seasons, with veteran leader Dustin Pedroia controlling that spot, Boston needs a young prospect or a veteran to step up and be the everyday third baseman. If Sandoval or Shaw finally start to play like they were expected, or if Devers can improve even more quickly, Moncada may be on the outside looking in on Boston’s roster.