What to expect from Red Sox's Benintendi in big leagues

MLB's No. 7 prospect could provide offensive upgrade in LF even as rookie

August 2nd, 2016

The Red Sox didn't make any blockbuster moves Monday before the Trade Deadline, as their lone deal of the day involved acquiring from the Twins for . But they did announce a significant addition later in the evening, when president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that Andrew Benintendi would join the team in Seattle on Tuesday.

Rated No. 7 on MLBPipeline.com's recently revamped Top 100 Prospects list, Benintendi will become Boston's regular left fielder against right-handed pitchers, allowing to return to the super-utility role in which he became an All-Star a year ago. Benintendi will get his first start on Wednesday.

Benintendi hit just one homer during an injury-plagued freshman season at Arkansas before breaking out as a sophomore in 2015. He won USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award and every major college player of the year award, led NCAA Division I with 20 homers while batting .376/.488/.717 with 24 steals, and carried the Razorbacks to the College World Series. The Red Sox ranked him as the second-best player available -- he was eligible as a sophomore because he turned 21 within 45 days of the Draft -- and were thrilled to get him with the seventh overall choice.

Signed for $3,590,400, Benintendi has torn through four levels of Boston's system and skipped Triple-A Pawtucket on his way to Fenway Park. He's a career .312/.392/.540 hitter with 20 homers and 26 steals in 151 Minor League games, with more extra-base hits and walks (74 each) than strikeouts (63).

A fine athlete who was the Ohio state Division III baseball and basketball player of the year as a senior at Madeira (Ohio) High, Benintendi had the best all-around tools of any college player in the 2015 Draft, and he has no apparent weakness in his game. Benintendi has a pure left-handed swing, a keen sense of the strike zone and surprising pop for a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder.

Though he's not physically imposing, the 22-year-old Benintendi has electrifying bat speed and deceptive strength, and he can smoke baseballs over the fence in a hurry. He put on a show during batting practice at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July, hitting six homers at Petco Park.

"I think my size sometimes catches people off guard," Benintendi said in San Diego, "but I don't think size matters when it comes to power. Mechanics and technique and bat speed matter more."

Benintendi has plus speed and good instincts on the bases and in the outfield. His arm grades as his worst tool, but it's still average, and it allows him to man any of the three outfield positions.

Though Benintendi can play a quality center field, Boston already has a more gifted defender there in After playing nowhere but center at the outset of his pro career, Benintendi did log four games in left field in the past two weeks at Double-A Portland.

Though they have the Majors' most prolific offense, the Red Sox have gotten mediocre production out of their left fielders, who have hit a combined .256/.322/.394 with a .715 OPS that ranks 17th in baseball at the position. Because he's such an advanced hitter, Benintendi could easily trump those numbers as a rookie. In time, he can become a .300 hitter who could deliver 20 homers and 20 steals per season.

Benintendi will become the fourth player from the 2015 Draft class to reach the Majors. He follows right-handers (first round, eighth overall, White Sox) and (eighth round, Nationals) and infielder (first round, second overall, Astros).