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Benintendi to Cincy? In '13, it was not to be

Area native was selected by Reds in 31st round but didn't sign
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- When the Red Sox made a rare visit to Cincinnati in September of last season, left fielder and area native Andrew Benintendi had three full sections of bleachers -- totaling roughly 1,000 fans -- there to welcome him as he played. They cheered loudly when Benintendi batted for the first time before he drew a walk.

Imagine the buzz Benintendi would have created if he played for his hometown Reds. It was at least in the realm of possibility when Cincinnati selected him out of Madeira High School in the 31st round of the 2013 Draft. Alas, Benintendi had other plans.

CINCINNATI -- When the Red Sox made a rare visit to Cincinnati in September of last season, left fielder and area native Andrew Benintendi had three full sections of bleachers -- totaling roughly 1,000 fans -- there to welcome him as he played. They cheered loudly when Benintendi batted for the first time before he drew a walk.

Imagine the buzz Benintendi would have created if he played for his hometown Reds. It was at least in the realm of possibility when Cincinnati selected him out of Madeira High School in the 31st round of the 2013 Draft. Alas, Benintendi had other plans.

"I guess that was kind of cool just to be able to say I got drafted," Benintendi said. "But at that point, I had no thought of signing."

Benintendi had already committed to the University of Arkansas. The Reds -- and other clubs -- knew that ahead of time.

"We were pretty convinced that the family and son were pretty much committed to school," Reds amateur scouting director Chris Buckley said. "He's a player we liked and we certainly thought he would be good. Sometimes, you just want to recognize a player and hopefully build a good relationship with him and maybe further down the road, that comes into play."

Video: BOS@CIN: Benintendi lays out to make a diving grab

Benintendi's star only rose while playing college baseball. He was the first player in Arkansas team history to be named the National Player of the Year. He also received SEC Player of the Year honors.

The Red Sox selected a then-20-year-old Benintendi with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 Draft. Cincinnati would have loved to have taken him, but it didn't have a chance because it held the 11th pick and took catcher Tyler Stephenson.

"Our area scout, Brad Meador, who is now a cross-checker, really thought Andrew was going to be a good player," Buckley said. "Sometimes kids are very much committed and the parents want them to go to school. Everyone's situation is a little bit different."

Benintendi progressed quickly as a professional and made the jump to the big leagues from Double-A in August 2016.

Was Benintendi hoping he'd slip a few spots and land in Cincinnati and be able to play at home? It was an outcome that worked out great for Barry Larkin, who played his entire career with the Reds and was elected to the Hall of Fame. It didn't go as well for Ken Griffey Jr., who requested a trade from the Mariners to his hometown team.

"Oh, no, I didn't really care, honestly," Benintendi said. "And now looking back, with the ticket situation and everything like that, it would have been a nightmare. I'm happy with what happened."

Benintendi didn't have a robust three-game series vs. the Reds last year. In 13 plate appearances, he went 1-for-9 with four walks and one RBI.

Video: BOS@CIN: Benintendi lines an RBI single to left

The Reds certainly wouldn't have minded having a local kid in their organization.

"We'd love to have another Barry Larkin for sure," Buckley said. "But these kids are scouted so heavily and there's so much accurate information, it's kind of hard to do."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Andrew Benintendi