The Red Sox are having top outfield prospect Andrew Benintendi meet the team in Seattle tomorrow, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald writes. The move means Benintendi will skip straight from Double-A Portland, where he’s batted .295/.357/.515 in 263 plate appearances this season, to the big leagues.
Benintendi has relatively little minor-league experience, with just 657 career plate appearances on the farm, but it sounds like the Red Sox are confident his lack of repetitions won’t be a significant hindrance. As GM of the Tigers, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski frequently moved top talents to the Majors quickly, whisking players like Justin Verlander, Andrew Miller, Rick Porcello and Jeremy Bonderman through the minors.
“Maybe,” Dombrowski had said Monday when asked whether Benintendi or fellow top prospect Yoan Moncada could join the team at some point this season. “It could be. They’re close enough that they could be. I’m not making that prediction, but they could be.”
Benintendi had been the subject of some speculation at this year’s trade deadline, but it’s unsurprising the Red Sox were apparently reluctant to move such a blue-chip player. Since the Red Sox picked him with the seventh overall selection in last year’s draft, the University of Arkansas product has rocketed through the Sox’ system, posting a .312/.392/.540 career line in four minor-league stops.
MLB.com currently rates Benintendi the second-best Red Sox prospect (behind only Moncada) and the game’s seventh-best overall prospect, praising him for his left-handed swing, plate discipline and all-around offensive game and noting that he could eventually hit .300 with 20 homers per season. (Heading into the season, Baseball America rated Benintendi the game’s No. 15 prospect.) Benintendi is a bit small, at 5’10 and 170 pounds, but there is no reason to think he can’t be an excellent big-league hitter.
It’s unclear how Benintendi will fit into the Red Sox outfield, which already features two top young players in Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley. Benintendi, who has played mostly center field in the minors, could take over left field and free Brock Holt, who also plays infield, to play other positions. If Benintendi sticks in the big leagues, he could become eligible for arbitration after 2019 and free agency after 2022.