The Boston Red Sox have given up several high profile prospects, but MLB executives still believe they have baseball’s best prospect in Andrew Benintendi.
Dave Dombrowski’s wheeling and dealing may have depleted a Boston Red Sox farm system that was once among the elite, but they still managed to hang on to one prospect considered to be the best in baseball entering 2017.
At least that’s what some of the sharpest minds in front offices across Major League Baseball believe.
MLBPipeline.com recently polled general managers and scouting executives to find out who they considered to be the best prospects in baseball, the results of which revealed Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi as the No. 1 prospect.
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You may be wondering, wait a minute – how is Benintendi still a prospect after taking over the starting left field role for the Red Sox in the second half of last season? While Benintendi made his big league debut in August, a knee injury that sidelined him for a few weeks left him short of 130 at-bats and 45 days on the active roster. Therefore he will still qualify for rookie status in 2017 and is still viewed as a prospect.
When the Red Sox traded Yoan Moncada to the Chicago White Sox in the Chris Sale deal there were some initial concerns over surrendering a player that many scouting publications ranked at the top of their prospect lists, including MLB.com. While Moncada undoubtedly has a bright future, it appears that many MLB executives view his former teammate as having surpassed him.
Benintendi secured half of the 20 votes collected in this survey. Moncada finished second with five votes, followed by Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson with three and New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres with two.
The 22-year old Benintendi hit .295 with an .835 OPS, two home runs and 14 RBI over 34 games in Boston. It’s a limited sample size, but his success out of the gate at the big league level may have been a factor in some executives favoring Benintendi. Proving that he can hit at this level makes him a safer pick than Moncada, who was exposed by pitchers that quickly realized the young infielder struggles against breaking balls.
"“He has the best combination of upside and risk,” an American League executive said of Benintendi. “He should be at least an everyday type player at the Major League level with the chance to be a consistent All-Star. In a perfect world, he would profile very well as a center fielder, but obviously that seems unlikely in Boston.”"
Benintendi clearly has more value as a center fielder, but the Red Sox already have an All-Star and defensive wizard manning that position in Jackie Bradley. Executives from other teams wouldn’t hold that against Benintendi, as they could still view him as at least an above-average center fielder if they ever managed to pry him away from the Red Sox, while he’d be more than capable of filling that spot at Fenway Park if anything were to ever happen to Bradley.
Benintendi is a five-tool player with an advanced hitting approach that will make him a presence in Boston’s lineup this season and for many more years to come.
A case can be made that some of the other prospects named in this poll have more long-term upside, but Benintendi is clearly the most major league ready prospect of the bunch and the favorite to capture the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year Award.