It's rare that a team with Boston's resources gets to draft as high as seventh. Less rare than we may like these last few years, granted, but rare all the same. And while it's only been two years now since their last chance at such a high pick, Trey Ball currently looks like a wasted opportunity.
In Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox are not risking another Trey Ball incident. Benintendi is not a project. A draft-eligible sophomore, Benintendi already brings with him a strong batting eye and wheels enough that he's likely to stay in center field. While his power is a recent development, and might not play up so well in a professional environment, it's the upside that could take an already solid outfielder and turn him into a very good player indeed. The final piece of the puzzle that made him worthy of a high draft pick.
The risk for Benintendi is moslty wrapped up in the fact that said puzzle hasn't looked like this for very long. He flew completely under the radar last year, hitting .276/.368/.333 in an injury-hampered freshman season before exploding onto the scene this year. He's hitting a ridiculous .380/.489/.715 with Arkansas in the SEC, and has seen his stock skyrocket as scouts started paying attention again. If the draft had been held in April, he might have been a lucky pickup on Day 2.
Given that scouts don't see Benintendi as a mediocre player riding a hot streak all the way to the bank, there shouldn't be any great fear for Red Sox fans so long as those injuries don't crop up again. But if there's no great reason to fear the Red Sox have stumbled into another Trey Ball mess, there's also no great reason to think they've struck it rich either.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't the "major league ready reliever" pick. The Red Sox did not select Benintendi expecting a backup and hoping for a starter. But this is also not the Brady Aiken pick. The chance exists for Benintendi to be a star, but a lot has to go right for that to happen. He'll need to maintain his pop after transitioning to wood bats without sacrificing the speed that lets him stay in center, all while seeing the rest of his game translate to the majors. It can happen, but it's far more likely that the Red Sox get a corner outfielder with average-or-better power, or a center fielder who maybe doesn't hit the ball quite so hard as he did during his college days.
For some, that will inevitably make Benintendi a disappointing pick. Even if the #7 pick is nowhere close to the #1 pick, it's hard not to think about the best of the best when the pick is in the single digits. But 2015 was never a draft class lauded for it's top end so much as for its depth. The opportunities for top talent came with giant red flags, like Aiken with his recent Tommy John surgery. The Red Sox could have found a pick with that sort of ceiling, but the floor and average outcome would have taken a bigger hit than that sort of upside is worth.
Benintendi isn't the best prospect in Boston's system right out of the gates, and he'll probably always play second fiddle to someone like Moncada or Devers as he rises through the levels. But he's a strong addition that's unlikely to leave Red Sox fans with too many headaches or too much regret. With Benintendi fairly safe from a fourth outfielder label, and no obvious star-in-waiting left on the board to be snatched up by the other teams, the Red Sox can be comfortable in their decision.
Also, there's this: