Just over five months ago, MLB’s top prospect and Boston Red Sox' outfielder Andrew Benintendi started his first big league game at Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners and recorded his first two major league hits. From there Benintendi went on to become the Red Sox everyday left-fielder with his five-tool type of play, hitting for average, power, stealing bases, outfield play, along with a pretty above average arm.
The 22-year old, former first-round pick in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft had great success (.295/.359/.476) in the first 2-3 months of his big league career, the real question is with his modern rookie year in the MLB coming in 2017, will we see these numbers climb as the slugger has already been known to be a tough out or will we see a slump as major-league pitchers figure out Benintendi flaws at the plate?
The biggest thing that the Boston Red Sox will have to deal with this upcoming season is not how will they they replace former slugger David Ortiz, but how will they keep a tight ship without him. When you think of an idea for the lineup this season there was a “core-five” in the first five slots in the lineup last season, which helped provide the best offense in baseball. Pedroia, Bogaerts, Betts, Ortiz, and Ramirez... but now with the absence of Ortiz, the name Benintendi comes to mind when thinking of someone who can provide that type of production on this team.
Benintendi who is likely to hold down an outfield spot as the Red Sox starting left fielder come first pitch opening day, will have a lot of weight on his shoulders to continue his success he had from last season. The incoming rookie has had a good attitude dealing with pressure to produce in his young career in Boston, Benintendi says “you're going to struggle. You're going to do well. You can't really let the past or the day before — whether you had a good day or bad day - dictate the day you have that certain day”.
The buzz of Benintendi’s early success has caught the whole league by storm, especially Red Sox' skipper John Farrell, who has tremendous expectations for the left-fielder's first “true” rookie season in 2017.
“A lot of people will remark similarly to Mookie Betts,” Farrell said. “How does he create such power from a guy who’s maybe slightly built. It’s about bat speed, it’s about timing, coordination, which he has tremendous skills in that way in Benintendi. It’s just great to see a guy that’s come in, he’s been able to just sit in the bottom of the order, not become a focal point, kind of blend in with everyone else. Clearly he’s handling himself in really good shape.”
Benintendi is the type of player you love to root for, he plays the game at 110%, he’s a young player who cares about his teammates and his ceiling is endless when it comes to the potential of how great he could be as a baseball player. The only question marks that have surfaced has been if the 22-year old’s effort and “balls-to-the-wall” type swagger will increase injury risks and prevent him from playing a full season. During his rookie season last year, Benintendi was put on the disabled list starting on August 29th for over a month due to a sprained knee while trying to avoid a tag on the basepaths.
This will be an interesting year for the young outfielder as he competes for a Rookie of the Year Award, along with having big expectations to build off a big couple of months last year. The motive shouldn’t be “How do we replace David Ortiz?” but how do we input guys in the lineup such as Benintendi to have just as a successful offense as they did last year.null