Prospect season never ends at Baseball America, but the Top 100 Prospects is the natural demarcation between one season to another. Countless conversations with scouts, coaches and team officials as well as many road trips over the past year lead to this list. And as soon as we put it in your hands, we begin working toward next year’s. The Top 100 is compiled with input from John Manuel, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Ben Badler, Kyle Glaser, Hudson Belinsky and Vince Lara-Cinisomo.
For premium subscribers, you get our 2017 Top 100 Prospects list that includes scouting reports for ALL prospects. Just click a player’s name to see the report.
1. Andrew Benintendi, of, Red Sox
|Tools & Grades|
|Hit: 70. Power: 60. Speed: 55. Fielding: 60. Arm: 50. ETA: 2017.|
|Stats & Media|
|VIDEO — PLAYER CARD|
|Benintendi was one of the top high school hitters in Ohio history and also drafted by the Reds in the 31st round but opted to head to Arkansas. After a modest freshman season with the Razorbacks, Benintendi passed on playing in summer leagues, instead focusing on improving his strength and conditioning. The result was a spectacular 2015 season that saw him lead the country with 20 home runs on the way to winning BA College Player of the Year and vaulted him to top-of-the-first-round status. The Red Sox selected him seventh overall. Benintendi confirmed the expectation that he could take the fast track to the big leagues by flying through high Class A Salem and Double-A Portland—he batted .312/.378/.532 in 97 games—en route to a callup to Boston at the beginning of August. He missed three weeks with a knee injury but returned in September. He homered in his first postseason plate appearance and put together the best at-bats of any Red Sox hitter in their American League Division Series loss to the Indians. Multiple evaluators believe that Benintendi has a chance to be a perennial all-star who competes for batting titles. “He’s a once-in-a-decade hitter,” one said. Benintendi combines excellent hand-eye coordination with the pitch recognition to avoid strike zone expansion. His precisely-tuned swing, with his strong forearms and core along with a rare knack for putting the bat on the ball, allow him to drive the ball with surprising authority given his diminutive stature. Another evaluator thought Benintendi’s upside was that of a 20-25 home run player with 50 doubles. More conservative views of his abilities still suggest an everyday player with a plus hit tool, which would make him an ideal No. 2 hitter with modest extra-base abilities but whose lack of weakness will minimize slumps. Though he hit just .179 in 28 at-bats against big league lefthanders, his willingness to use the whole field mitigates long-term platoon concerns. Defensively, Benintendi has the ability to play center field at an above-average level, though with Jackie Bradley in center and Mookie Betts in right in Boston, he appears destined for left where his plus range will be barely taxed playing in front of the Green Monster. Benintendi isn’t a burner on the bases, but his baserunning impact exceeds his pure speed, which grades as above-average. In short, evaluators see a player who does everything well while displaying phenomenal makeup that could make him a cornerstone for years to come. Benintendi seems almost certain to open 2017 in the same role he occupied at the end of 2016: a near-everyday outfielder in the big leagues. Depending on how his game evolves—whether to feature more power or take more walks—it would come as little surprise to see him occupying one of the top three spots in the Red Sox lineup for years to come.|