Boston Red Sox Scouting Report on OF Andrew Benintendi
The Boston Red Sox saw OF Andrew Benintendi jump from 2015 draft pick to the major leagues in 2016. What is his future?
Benintendi was originally drafted out of high school in Ohio by his hometown Cincinnati Reds in the 31st round of the 2013 draft, but he chose instead to attend the University of Arkansas.
This was indeed a fortuitous decision as he tore apart the SEC, especially in his draft season, when he hit .376/.488/.717 with 20 home runs and 24 stolen bases against some of the best college baseball talent in the game.
While there were questions about his size, the Red Sox ignored those and chose Benintendi at #7 overall in the 2015 draft.
Benintendi began his professional career in the New York-Penn League, and in 35 games there he showed that his college performance was no fluke, quickly earning a promotion to low-A Greenville in the South Atlantic League for the final 19 games of the season.
Combined between the two levels, Benintendi hit .313/.416/.556 with 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases, and a 35/24 BB/K ratio. The crazy thing to consider is that if you add in his collegiate season, in the calendar year of 2015, Benintendi was a 30/30 guy with 31 combined home runs and 34 combined stolen bases in just 119 combined games and 424 at bats.
After the season, ranking services took note of his performance, ranking him #15 overall in Baseball America, #25 overall by MLB.com and #46 by Baseball Prospectus.
Benintendi began his 2016 season with a loaded Salem lineup in the high-A Carolina League, and he moved quickly, only spending 34 games with Salem. He was promoted to AA Portland in the Eastern League, but to open August, he was brought to Boston.
He combined in the minor leagues in 2016 to hit .312/.378/.532 with nine home runs and 16 stolen bases (along with 31 doubles and 12 triples), while posting a 39/39 BB/K ratio.
Benintendi hit very well in his pro debut, falling just short of passing rookie requirements, which allowed him to be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award in 2017 and for prospect lists in the 2016-2017 offseason. With Boston, he hit .295/.359/.476 with two home runs and a stolen base, posting a 10/25 BB/K ratio.
As I mentioned before, there was concern about Benintendi’s size coming into the draft. He’s listed at 5’10” and 170 pounds. Frankly, both of those numbers might be exaggerated some.
That said, Benintendi has hands that will absolutely dwarf most normal humans’ when he shakes them, and there are those who talk about his “Popeye” forearms. His unique physical build has certainly allowed him to have success to the highest level to this point.
Contact (65) – Benintendi has a tremendous left-handed swing. He uses a short, compact stroke with incredible bat speed through the zone and tremendous strength in his lower arms that allows him to adjust his swing even when he starts.
He has an innate ability to get the bat head to the ball, and his first major league hit was a tremendous example of that. He fought off a pitch and took it down the third base line to the opposite field.
Power (55) – Benintendi is a guy who has a very pure path through the zone from the left side, so there isn’t a ton of natural loft in his swing. That said, his incredibly strong lower arms do produce a ton of loud contact.
With ~90 games per season played in Boston and New York, Benintendi very well could put up 20 home runs per season and 30+ doubles just because of the parks he’s in, but his natural power is more of a gap power.
Eye (65) – Benintendi has one of the best eyes in all of the game, and I do mean major or minor leagues. His recognition of the zone is absolutely tremendous and way above average.
The only thing that kept me from a 70 was watching some games with the Red Sox at the end of the season and seeing Benintendi get fooled within the zone by excellent late break.
Now, many hitters face exactly that, and I did not see him fooled outside of the zone more than times I could count on one hand in his dozen big league games I watched, but big league movement is something he’s just never seen and will need to get used to.
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Speed (55) – Benintendi does have above average speed and quickness both. He was a very good basketball player in high school, and he still shows that athleticism. On the bases, he does use very high-level instincts as much as pure speed to both steal and take extra bases while running.
Defense (60) – There are few teams where Andrew Benintendi would be the third option to play center field in the major leagues, but that is the case in Boston. However, that is not because Benintendi could not handle the position.
In fact, I believe if he was outside of Boston, Benintendi would be a center fielder, and he’d be the type of guy whose overall profile would force the move of other players the way that Carlos Correa‘s overall skill set has forced better overall shortstops off the position for him to be more comfortable, as he’s the future for the Astros.
Benintendi shows exceptional instincts on balls and does very well setting his feet to have perfect throwing position seemingly every time he catches the ball as well.
Arm (55) – Benintendi’s pure arm strength is a 50. I bump the extra +5 on the grade due to the tremendous accuracy Benintendi shows, his ability to use his instincts to throw to the right base at all times and the way he positions his feet every time to be perfectly lined up for his throws. All those things maximize every bit of his arm ability, so while he may have average raw arm strength, he gets more out of his arm than most guys with “bigger” arms.
MLB Player Comp
The approach, contact ability and body style of Benintendi is very similar at the plate to Christian Yelich, though Yelich really isn’t in the same class as Benintendi as a defender.
The combination that Benintendi has of his excellent defensive ability plus his smart base running does remind me a ton of a young Jacoby Ellsbury, though Ellsbury showed the power of Benintendi in only one season of his career.
Watching Benintendi should be a very fun thing for sure. He’ll be patrolling the Green Monster in left field for the foreseeable future in Boston, and the combination of Bradley, Betts and Benintendi could be the best defensive outfield in the game, along with providing significant offensive value as well.