2015 1st Round Pick, Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas

Snodgrass'Muff

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No new thread for our first round pick? I know Jagger has the more fun name by far, and that Rei is interesting because he reminds people a little of Vazquez, but Benintendi, who my fiance is calling BeNintendo (his number when he gets his first cup of coffee should absolutely be 64) is the most exciting Red Sox draftee of the first two days. He has speed, power and plays a premium defensive position. 
 
BA's scouting report.
 
 
A draft-eligible sophomore, Benintendi's draft stock has skyrocketed this spring thanks to the loudest season of any college player. Benintendi ranks among the top 10 in Division I in batting average, on-base percentage and leads the nation in slugging percentage while playing in the always competitive Southeastern Conference. Benintendi came from off many teams' radars. He didn't play summer ball last year and some scouts may not have even realized he was draft eligible at the start of the year. But a who's-who of scouting directors and front-office officials are flying in to see him now as they realize he may be the best combination of athleticism and production in this college class. A very productive but slight outfielder (and basketball guard) in high school, he's added excellent strength these past two years. He has extremely strong forearms and has shown plus raw power that plays in games, with the ability to drive the ball to all fields but with most of his home runs coming to his pull side. And he does it with a very balanced approach and excellent pitch recognition. He's striking out in only 11 percent of plate appearances, while getting extra-base hits in 13 percent of his plate appearances. He is also a legitimate center fielder with above-average to plus run times and excellent reads and instincts. The only real knocks on Benintendi are his size (he's 5-foot-10) and the lack of a lengthy track record.
 
MLB.com's write up.
 
 
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
 
Teams who like college hitters who perform, especially in competitive conferences, will undoubtedly be giving Benintendi a long look at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks' Draft-eligible sophomore has certainly raised his stock with his performance at the plate this spring. The outfielder has a smooth swing from the left side of the plate, showing the ability to consistently barrel up balls and make consistently hard contact. Not known for his power previously, the Cincinnati native has added some strength and was among the nation's leaders in home runs this season. Benintendi has plus speed, which should allow him to be a basestealing threat and stick in center field.
Benintendi does have some leverage as a sophomore, but most around Little Rock feel he's going to be drafted early enough to forego his junior season at Arkansas.
 
Here are the basics:
 

 
DOB: July 6, 1994 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 5'10", 170 pounds
Bats/Throws: L/L
School: Arkansas
Previously Drafted: 2013, 31st round by Cincinnati
 
Rankings:
 
BA: 9th
MLB: 8th
minorleagueball.com: 11th
ESPN: 21st
 
Over The Monster has a piece up about where he slots into the farm system here. The consensus from the pieces they samples is that he slots right in with the Owens, Margot, Devers group of players near, but not quite at the top of the system. Given the depth of the system and the high profile names at the top (Moncada and Rodriguez, assuming Swihart loses eligibility soon), that's not exactly faint praise.
 
He doesn't have any elite tools, but he rates average or above average everywhere.
 
Here's a little video of him taking BP followed by some game action.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK2v5NzhSlM
 
And here's a bit of that power.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyHu8t9CxGY
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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Marbleheader said:
Good start to an 'Adopt a prospect' thread as well, Snod.
 
Yeah, last year they got moved from the main board so I figured this would end up as his thread after a week or two and that it was worth setting it up as such.
 

Puffy

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Chuck Z said:
Home run swing there looks like a left-handed Napoli. Little loopy with a quick finish.
 
I could see it. His swings in the batting practice video were more one-handed and reminded me very much of Mike Greenwell.
 

RedOctober3829

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Benintendi was named Baseball America's National Player of the Year.  A snippet of the article on him.
 
Every mythic hero grapples with some sort of adversity—must overcome some sort of flaw—before his meteoric rise.
Before Benintendi even began his collegiate career, he had surgery to remove the hamate bone in his right hand, and as a result he got off to a sluggish start. The numbers from last season are by no means eye-popping—.276/.368/.333 with one home run and 17 steals. Certainly, they didn’t hint at the type of season the center fielder would have this year: Through 221 at-bats, Benintendi batted .380/.489/.715 with 19 homers, 55 RBIs and 23 steals in 27 attempts.
After a momentary fall from grace, the Hit King returned.
“Andrew has just made an incredible jump, just night and day as far as confidence-wise and just the way he plays the game,” Van Horn said. “Last year was probably the first time ever in his life that he failed a little bit. He took it to heart and went home and worked his butt off.”
Both Benintendi and Van Horn point to three reasons for his sophomore surge. There’s health, obviously. Mechanically, Benintendi closed up his open stance in early April last season, and almost immediately, the ball jumped off his bat better, so much so that Van Horn moved him from leadoff to the No. 3 hole. Thirdly, ailed by a strained quad, Benintendi took time off from summer ball and committed himself in the weight room, packing on about 10 pounds of good weight.
“I approached it like a job this summer, really,” Benintendi said. “I just dedicated myself to getting bigger and stronger. I think that’s definitely helped me this year.”
Suddenly and—to outsiders—out of nowhere, Benintendi’s too-good-to-be-true high school heroics carried over to the college level. In the eyes of scouts, Benintendi has become a mythic figure, too. An enigma.
“People have fallen in love with him,” said one area scout. “He’s the kind of guy where your scouting director calls you and goes, ‘Hey, what do you have on this guy? This guy is going off.’”
At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Benintendi’s 19 home runs come as a surprise to some—Benintendi himself said he was a bit surprised at that total. His compact package of power and speed in center field is a unique one, and scouts have struggled to put a major league comparison on him—from Shane Robinson to Adam Eaton to Darren Bragg and more. They haven’t had much time to figure it out, either, with Benintendi being a draft-eligible sophomore.
“I think probably half the teams didn’t realize he was sophomore eligible coming into the year,” another scout said. “So much of it is you just don’t expect it. He’s 5-10, 180, not selling out for power. He just hits balls out of the park easy.”
Benintendi has seen the attention swell around him in recent weeks—in the presence of scouts, in the awards he’s received and in all of the cameras pointed in his direction. It’s all come so quickly.
Van Horn said some of the recognition might’ve gotten to Benintendi during the SEC tournament, where he went hitless until the ninth inning of the second game. His first hit was a jaw-dropper of a home run that clanked off of the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium scoreboard in right field.
“I think that was just a lot of frustration coming out of him,” Van Horn said, laughing.
Since then, Benintendi has seemingly come to terms with it all. More relaxed at the plate, he’s helped lead the Razorbacks back to the College World Series. And after his electric four months in Fayetteville, he soared up draft boards, eventually sticking as the seventh overall pick, to the Red Sox. His draft worries are over.
“It’s been a lot, especially with all these awards and things like that, but I just try to take it in,” Benintendi said. “It’s exciting, though. I get a lot of texts from people that I know and people from back home, and it sounds like they’re excited, almost more excited than I am.”
They’ve been excited for some time.
 
http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/2015-college-player-year-andrew-benintendi/
 

DanoooME

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DrewDawg said:
What were his "too good to be true high school heroics"?
 
They are in the linked article above.
 
He was drafted by the Reds in the 31st round in 2013.  Quite the jump up by going to college.
 

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Snodgrass'Muff

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Thanks for the head's up. I'll definitely try to catch a few innings. I'm also planning on catching a few games as he passes through Brooklyn and Staten Island if he's in the NYPL long enough to have road games at either or both.
 

RedOctober3829

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
Thanks for the head's up. I'll definitely try to catch a few innings. I'm also planning on catching a few games as he passes through Brooklyn and Staten Island if he's in the NYPL long enough to have road games at either or both.
I bet he won't even start out at Lowell.  I bet he'll start at Salem.
 

Merkle's Boner

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I really hope they don't automatically allocate him to Lowell and the NYPL. He's the National Collegiate player of the Year, I would hope he could handle Greenville.
 

Detts

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RedOctober3829 said:
I bet he won't even start out at Lowell.  I bet he'll start at Salem.
 
Sam Travis did Lowell for 40 games and then 27 at Greenville.
Marrero did 64 games in Lowell, then skipped Greenville the following year.
 
I'm guessing Lowell.
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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Merkle's Boner said:
I really hope they don't automatically allocate him to Lowell and the NYPL. He's the National Collegiate player of the Year, I would hope he could handle Greenville.
 
You guys are probably right, but I'm being selfish and hoping he spends a few weeks playing at a level I have a chance to see him at. I used to catch the Sea Dogs pretty regularly when I lived near New Britain, CT. Since moving to New York, I haven't actually been to a minor league game and while I could just go and check out a local team for the heck of it, having a Sox prospect or two to check out makes it a lot more fun.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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mt8thsw9th said:
 
Did you figure he'd be even younger than that?
 
No, I did not think he'd be younger (he really couldn't be much younger).  Benintendi is obviously old for his grade (although he's young in terms of college draftees); I guess in some ways he's a practical example of what was mentioned in Outliers.
 
The practice of redshirting kids fascinates me and I wonder what effects the practice has.  But like I said, this may be of interest to no one else but me.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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RedOctober3829 said:
I bet he won't even start out at Lowell.  I bet he'll start at Salem.
 
If they start him with a full-season team, wouldn't it be Greenville, unless they're planning to promote Margot to Portland at the same time? Greenville's current CF Monge seems fungible (he's not even in SoxProspects' top 60).
 
BTW, if they did start him at Greenville that would put him in the same lineup with Moncada, Devers, Chavis, Guerra and Longhi. Holy crap.
 

Bigpupp

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RedOctober3829 said:
I bet he won't even start out at Lowell.  I bet he'll start at Salem.
Did you mean Greenville? I wouldn't be all too surprised to see him start out there (although I think Lowell for a handful of games is more likely). But keeping in mind he is only a sophomore, I would say starting at Salem is as close to 0% as you can get. 
 

steveluck7

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I would think Lowell as well. Let him get used to the day to day routine of pro ball. It'll also let the Boston FO keep a bit closer eye on him. Then let him earn his spot with Greenville or Salem next spring
 

Deathofthebambino

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A lot of cool stuff about him in that BA piece, particularly that he grew up a couple minutes from the same private high school that Griffey Jr. and Larkin attended, but chose to attend public school instead, so he could also play basketball.  He's only 5'10', but he set the school record for career points with 1,753 (a shitload in high school), points in a season (638), ppg in a season (25.5) and career 3 pointers (180).  Kid's a real deal athlete. 
 

TheDeuce222

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Impressive performance in the CWS so far today. Really nice diving catch in center to rob Virginia of a hit, and a sac fly and an effortless no-doubt HR at the plate. Looks to have extremely quick hands through the zone as advertised.
 

E5 Yaz

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RedOctober3829 said:
 
Sounds like he's going to sign.
 
Of course he'll sign. The list of MLB first-round picks who don't sign is very, very short
 

soxhop411

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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi won the Golden Spikes Award on Tuesday, completing a sweep of college baseball's most prestigious awards as national player of the year.
Benitendi was presented the award during a ceremony in Los Angeles. The Golden Spikes is one of two major national player of the year awards alongside the Dick Howser Trophy, with which Benintendi was presented on June 13 at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
"I am very proud to be the recipient of the 2015 Golden Spikes Award," Benintendi said in a statement to WholeHogSports.com. "If it were not for my coaches, trainers, teammates and parents this would not be possible. I am grateful and humbled to join the long list of outstanding players who have received this award and would like to thank USA Baseball for this honor."
Benintendi is the first Arkansas player to win either of the awards and is the 17th player to win both in the same season.

http://m.nwaonline.com/news/2015/jun/23/benintendi-wins-golden-spikes-award/
 

soxhop411

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“@Sean_McAdam: Some recent Golden Spikes winners: David Price, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Trevor Bauer, Mike Zunino + Kris Bryant.”
 

Rovin Romine

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soxhop411 said:
“@Sean_McAdam: Some recent Golden Spikes winners: David Price, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Trevor Bauer, Mike Zunino + Kris Bryant.”
 
Link to the past winners:  http://web.usabaseball.com/goldenspikes/winners.jsp
 
Including this handsome guy: 

 
 
 
And this guy turned out OK:  

 
***
I'm becoming more and more surprised we got Benintendi.  
 

Rovin Romine

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The Allented Mr Ripley said:
 
It's strictly because of his size. If he were 6'2", 210 he would've been first overall.
 
He's 20 years old:  5'10", 180.   He won't pick up inches, but he could put on a bit more muscle without becoming Hanley-esque. 
 
I always wonder about "listed" heights and weights as opposed to the actual.   Regardless of height, it's not like short guys haven't had success, including producing some power: 
 
Successful players under 5'10": http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/4/15/2109021/the-best-short-position-players-of-all-time
 
(slideshow) http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1228431-mlbs-25-best-power-hitters-ever-under-60-tall
 
SEC player of the year
Baseball America national player of the year
Collegiate Baseball national player of the year
Dick Howser Trophy
Golden Spides Award
 
Having seen Benintendi in person (5' 10" 170#), he's not been measured with the same tape that puts Pedroia at 5' 9"
and remember  Yaz was 5'11"  175#
 

ivanvamp

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Fair to say we're all a little more encouraged by this pick than the Trey Ball selection?
 

jscola85

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Totally different picks.  The Ball selection was pretty much purely a high risk / high reward selection.  Benintendi should be a guy who moves quickly through the system though may not have the ceiling of a tall, projectable lefty who throws in the mid-90's.
 

doc

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I was at Lowell for the Spinners game last night and this kid has an arm, saw him throw out a runner from deep center (350 ft +) on a attempted sac fly.
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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He also has a 156 wRC+ with 4 home runs, a double and 3 triples in 100 plate appearances. 244/390/487 so far. He has a 19% walk rate to go with a 14% strikeout rate. Obviously the walk rate will come down and the strikeout rate will probably tick up as he advances, but holy crap. 19%?
 
It's nice to see some early returns from the number 7 overall pick this time around.
 

jscola85

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Benintendi doesn't have enough ABs to qualify it seems, but if he did he'd be 4th in the NYPL in OPS. Just hit 100 PAs - would a promotion to Greenville be out of line soon? I believe Keith Law mentioned on Twitter that he felt he should be in Salem next year, so at least a taste of full season ball this year would seem to make sense if that's the plan for him.
 

Byrdbrain

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Some of the SoxProspects guys on Twitter yesterday were saying he should be going up to Greenville any time now. They were speculating it might even be yesterday since Lowell had to make some kind of roster move, obviously that didn't happen.
 
Chris Hatfield ‏@SPChrisHatfield  Aug 4
Lowell needs to clear a roster spot before tonight's game. Not predicting or projecting it, but a Benintendi promotion wouldn't surprise.
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Edit:Added tweet I referenced, a bit wishy washier than I had remembered.