Red Sox have three of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects
By Sean Penney
Baseball America ranking: 1
Hit: 70. Power: 60. Speed: 55. Fielding: 60. Arm: 50. ETA: 2017.
The No. 1 overall prospect ranked by Baseball American this year is Andrew Benintendi, who made his major league debut with the Red Sox last August. Since he tallied fewer than 130 at-bats, Benintendi retains his rookie status entering 2017, making him eligible to still be considered a prospect.
The 22-year old hit .295 with an .835 OPS over 34 games with the Red Sox last season. He skyrocketed through the farm system after being drafted with the 7th overall pick in 2015, bypassing Triple-A on his path to Boston. Despite skipping a level, Benintendi didn’t miss a beat, quickly establishing himself as a reliable option in left field and an emerging force in the lineup.
The former Golden Spikes Award winner from the University of Arkansas is a polished hitter with the maturity to adapt quickly to the majors. He’ll hit for average and has decent pop in his bat – although is power may emerge sooner than expected given his focus on bulking up this winter.
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Benintendi is a natural center fielder who has been pushed over to left by the presence of defensive wizard Jackie Bradley. He should become an excellent left fielder once he learns the quirks of playing in front of the Green Monster at Fenway Park, while in the long-term, Benintendi has the ability to shift to center if the Red Sox aren’t able to lock up Bradley when he reaches free agency in a few years.
Benintendi is expected to open the season playing left field in Boston. He spent his brief time in the big leagues stranded near the bottom of the deepest lineup in baseball, but he’s likely to hit higher in the order this year and manager John Farrell is even toying with the idea of putting him in the No. 2 hole.
The Red Sox may have raided the farm system in their quest to deliver impact players to help the team win now, but it appears they saved the best prospect for themselves.