Ever since June 2015 when he was drafted 7th overall, there has been a tremendous amount of anticipation leading up to the major league debut of Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Wednesday night, Benintendi will finally get show the fans what the future holds as the Benintendi-Bradley-Betts outfield will come together for the first time. In 151 minor league games over the past 2 seasons ranging from short season Lowell to Double-A Portland, Benintendi has hit .312 while launching 20 homers and driving in 107 runs. The level of competition is most certainly not the same as it is at the major league level, but Benintendi has shown that he possesses the skills to be a successful hitter at the major league level.
My biggest concern is the fact that he is being called up straight from Double-A, and has not experienced Triple-A where there are many more major league quality players competing. As we saw in the case of Xander Bogaerts, being rushed to the majors after only 60 games in Pawtucket may have stunted his growth as a player. This led to a .250 batting average in the last 2 months of 2013, and a .240 average in his first full season in 2014. As we now know, Bogaerts did end up being successful at the major league level. However, there was quite a long adjustment period before he was able to translate his raw talent to major league success. With an even lower level of minor league experience, I’m worried that Benintendi will go through similar struggles early on in his major league career. Once major league teams are able to develop scouting reports and review film on a hitter, they can find ways to get them out that minor league teams could not. That being said, I do believe Andrew Benintendi is our left fielder of the future. Red Sox fans just need to be patient and understand that he might not have an enormous immediate impact on the team.
The case for Benintendi being on the major league roster is much stronger than the case against it. The Sox came into the season planning on Rusney Castillo being their Opening Day left fielder, with Chris Young coming off the bench to face any and all lefties. Since Opening Day, the left field position has been a revolving door of sorts as we’ve seen Brock Holt, Chris Young, Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart, Ryan LaMarre, and Bryce Brentz all come take a shot at it. The only two with any success have been Holt and Young. In Holt’s case, he is best used in a super-utility role so he can provide rest for players all around the diamond. As for Young, he suffered a right hamstring injury back in June that has sidelined him ever since. The recent struggles of Bryce Brentz off the bench have motivated the Sox to give Benintendi a shot at playing left field while allowing Brock Holt to reclaim his status as the “Jack of all trades” on the Red Sox bench.
The starting outfield will consist of Benintendi, Bradley, and Betts for years to come. It all starts Wednesday night in Seattle where all eyes will be on the 22 year old Benintendi. As they are for all Red Sox prospects, expectations will be high. The fans need to realize that even if Benintendi does not immediately live up to the hype, it does not mean he is a bust. It always takes time for young players to adjust to a new level, even if some happen to take longer than others. Regardless, the era of the Benintendi-Bradley-Betts outfield is about to be underway. After 13 months of waiting, the future is here.