From the Minor League Ball mailbag:
“Everyone keeps talking about Andrew Benintendi and as a Red Sox fan I’m really excited. But I also know that Boston prospects can get overhyped. Please tell me that Benintendi is not just hype.”——Ricky K. from Lynchburg, Virginia.
Well, Ricky, I am in your corner here. Contrary to what some Yankees boosters believe, I am not a Red Sox fan, but I love Benintendi dating back to his time at the University of Arkansas.
That’s hardly a revelation of course, since just about everyone who has seen him play (and even people who haven’t) love him. Most observers regard him as the top prospect in baseball entering 2017 and the ones who don’t have him at number two.
I understand your concerns. Benintendi represents a perfect storm for the hype machine: he plays in a major media market, for an already-excellent team. Scouts love him. Statheads love him. He’s got the tools and the numbers and his makeup is also a big plus. In his short college and pro careers he’s performed well on big stages.
Nobody is perfect and there are few potential notes of caution.
First, he showed some difficulty against left-handed pitching when he reached the majors last year. He hit them very well in the minors and I imagine that he’ll be able to adjust in the Show, but he needs to show us.
Second, we need to be realistic about his power projection. He has no shortage of bat speed and he should hit plenty of doubles and triples, but home run-wise he may top out in the 15-18 range. There’s nothing wrong with that given everything else he does, but we cannot assume a Mookie Betts-like 25+homer breakout.
Third, this isn’t something I can quantify but I wonder if he’ll be vulnerable to nagging injuries. He plays at a high energy level; that’s a good thing of course as it maximizes his tools, but he just strikes me as the kind of player who might push his body too hard.
To summarize, my main questions about Benintendi are A) platoon splits; B) long-term home run projection; C) durability. Frankly, I don’t expect either A or B to be issues. We’ll have to see about C.
The bottom line though: in my opinion, Benintendi is legitimate, not a product of hype or Boston bias.