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Excerpts from 2016 Baseball Prospect Book: Andrew Benintendi, Zack Bird, Jomar Reyes, Jamie Ritchie

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Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

As promised, here are some excerpts from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. These are reports on four players that I have been asked about: Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox, Zack Bird of the Braves, Jomar Reyes of the Orioles, and Jamie Ritchie of the Astros.

If you like them, please consider ordering the book. There will be 1000+ reports like this.

Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 5-10 WT: 170 DOB: July 6, 1994

Drafted in the first round last June from the University of Arkansas, Andrew Benintendi was devastatingly effective during the college season and remained devastatingly effective in pro ball. Scouts weren’t 100% certain how his power would translate against pro pitching but that seems much less of an issue after he slugged .566 with 11 homers in his first 54 games. Although he’s not tall, Benintendi is quite athletic and very strong. His swing translates that strength to field power and the entire hitting package plays up due to his tremendously good pitch recognition. The high power/high walks/low strikeout combination he’s demonstrated thus far is quite rare and there are no red flags indicating that it is a fluke. Benintendi also has above-average speed, a decent arm, and excellent instincts in center field. In short, he is a complete Seven Skill player. Possible comp: Jason Kipnis with a few more homers, a few less strikeouts, and the ability to play above-average defense in center field. Grade A-.

Zack Bird, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 205 DOB: July 14, 1994

Acquired in the big blockbuster trade with the Dodgers last summer, Bird presents a dichotomy between outstanding projection and mediocre current performance. The radar loves him: he can hit 99 and works consistently in the mid-90s. It isn’t straight heat, either; the fastball moves well. On his best days he has a plus breaking ball (referred to as a slider or a hard curve depending on the source) and a pretty good change-up, but both secondary pitches are inconsistent and his command still needs a lot of work. This was especially evident in Double-A after the trade. If you squint right you can see a number two starter here, but he’ll need more refinement to reach that ceiling and may be more of a number four guy (or a reliever) if the polish doesn’t come. Grade B-.

Jomar Reyes, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 220 DOB: February 20, 1997

The Orioles signed Reyes out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for $350,000. They’ve pushed him quickly and he’s held his own, showing good gap power and adequate contact hitting ability in full season ball at age 18. He could stand to draw more walks; I do think we will see his home run production increase. Reviews of his defense focus on a strong throwing arm but say that his range is substandard and he may wind up at another position. Be that as it may, he improved dramatically in terms of reliability last year, improving his fielding percentage from a poor .897 in 2014 to a much better .948 in 2015. He also turned a much larger number of double plays, which can be taken as a crude proxy for improving footwork at third base. We’ll have to see if that continues but the numbers indicate that a position switch is not immediately necessary: he has a chance to stick. Good points: power potential, age relative to league, improving glove. Bad points: doesn’t walk much, hasn’t tapped that power potential just yet. There’s enough upside here to upgrade to a Grade B-.

Jamie Ritchie, C, Houston Astros
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 190 DOB: April 9, 1993

The Astros drafted Ritchie in the 13th round in 2014 from Belmont University in Tennessee. He is a line drive hitter with exceptional strike zone judgment. He basically never swings at a bad pitch but he’s not passive and will make good solid contact on anything in the zone. On the negative side, his swing is level and he may never hit for much home run power. On defense he is a very good receiver in terms of blocking and general reliability, with low passed ball and error rates. However, his arm is just so-so and he threw out only 22% of runners last year. He spent time at first base and is a competent defender, but without more home run power he doesn’t ideally fit there. We need to see how Ritchie transitions to the higher levels. The throwing difficulties and lack of home run power make it unlikely for him to be a future regular, but he could have value as a pinch-hitter/platoon bat/backup catcher/backup first baseman. Grade C.