Boston Red Sox star prospect Andrew Benintendi challenged teammate Brian Johnson in batting practice Sunday afternoon.
2017 continues to be Andrew Benintendi’s year. After his stellar major league debut last season, he’s been heralded as the consensus number one prospect in baseball and looks to become a key contributor at the top of the Red Sox’ lineup. He’s already flashing the type of talent and attitude that’s required of a table setter for this type of offense.
Benintendi and another Red Sox prospect, 2012 first-round pick Brian Johnson, went out to lunch on Friday during which Benintendi had one message for the lefty: he’s going to take Johnson yard. Well, Benintendi delivered on that promise.
In an interview with MassLive’s Christopher Smith, Johnson recounted what went down at batting practice on Sunday.
"“Oh, yeah, he told me he was going to… I was like, ‘Well, what if I put it in your back?’ joking around with him. He knows I’m not going to do that,” Johnson said. “He did it. And he top-spun it, too. That’s the best part. … I looked at him. And we both started laughing.”"
Batting practice is just that, practice, but it’s still impressive that he was able to call his shot. Even more impressive was that this wasn’t just a coach throwing from in front of the mound. Johnson delivered from a full wind-up and Benintendi was still able to groove the letter high fastball out of right field.
At 26-years-old, many are wondering what the future will have in store for Johnson. Since being selected in the Amateur Draft five years ago, he’s made just one major league appearance, a spot-start in 2015. In his sole start, he gave up four earned runs over 4.1 innings pitched. He also missed a large portion of the 2016 season to his battles with anxiety and depression. This season will be a big opportunity for him to prove that he still belongs in the Red Sox’ plans.
Benintendi, a fellow first-round pick, is the overwhelming favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award this season. In 34 games for the Sox last year, he hit .295/.359/.476 with two home runs and 12 other extra-base hits. He also homered in his first postseason appearance, the Red Sox’ game one loss to the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.
With the personalities the Red Sox have on their roster, it’s no surprise that there’s already some friendly competition breaking out at camp. It’s more shocking that it’s taken a week for the first story to break. Between Dustin Pedroia and Chris Sale, there’s enough competitive spirit for an entire team, so it’s nice to see that Benintendi is fitting in so well.
Speaking of Pedroia, it’s clear that he’s adapting well to his new role as the team’s leader.
With the retirement of David Ortiz, the Red Sox offence will need to make up for his production by committee. As the team’s expected everyday left-fielder Benintendi will need to be a big part of that group. Thankfully he’ll have veterans like Pedroia around to assist in his development.
The Red Sox’ first Spring Training games kick off this Friday the 24th, when they host the New York Mets at Jet Blue Park.