One final Red Sox prospect has made it into MLB Pipeline's positional rankings, and it's outfielder Andrew Benintendi. This isn't a back-end rank like a few of these have been, either: Benintendi ranks fifth among all outfield prospects, as MLB doesn't use a distinction for the three different spots.
Benintendi saw his stock soar with his Player of the Year campaign for Arkansas, and it only kept going up after he tore apart short-season ball to the tune of .290/.408/.540 with seven homers before similarly erupting over 19 games for Low-A Greenville. Benintendi very well might start 2016 for High-A Salem even though he was drafted just last June at number seven overall, and it's not hard to imagine his summer ending at Double-A Portland -- possibly alongside the organization's number one prospect, Yoan Moncada.
He still has a lot to deal with in the minors, so let's not get too excited and start expecting him to be a top-25 prospect or anything right now. He should be top-50 for many outlets, and for someone with as few pro games behind him as Benintendi has, that's a great start. As he develops further -- maybe he keeps the power he's shown so far, maybe it drops back a bit against competition that's more prepared for him -- we'll have a better feel for what his realistic ceiling is. Don't let that patience stop you from enjoying him in the meantime, though, because he's been special so far.
MLB's scouting report on Benintendi is sure to get you excited about him if you're somehow not there already:
Benintendi had the best all-around tools of any college player in the 2015 Draft, and he continued to rake in his pro debut. He's a pure hitter with a pretty left-handed stroke, a keen sense of the strike zone and impressive patience. Benintendi is not physically imposing at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, but he has a quick left-handed swing and deceptive strength, and he projects as a possible .300 hitter with 20 or more homers per year.
Benintendi's value goes far beyond his offensive contributions. He has plus speed and good instincts in all phases of the game, making him a viable basestealer and a quality center fielder. Benintendi's worst tool is his arm, though it grades as average and won't prevent him from playing any of the three outfield positions.
If his worst tool is average, and he can fill out without harming his ability to play the outfield, then Benintendi is going to be just fine. You might not have to wait long to find out, either, if MLB knows what they're talking about, as they list his ETA as 2017 -- that's probably sometime late in the year, but still. Maybe there's a reason the Sox didn't feel they had to go hard after a big free agent outfielder this winter while they are still in a position to test out Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr.
If you missed the previous entries in this positional series, Anderson Espinoza made it into the top-10 right-handed pitchers. Sam Travis was a top-10 first base prospect. Yoan Moncada was the top second base prospect, and 19-year-old Rafael Devers made it all the way to number two among third base prospects.
Michael Kopech, who is probably Boston's fifth-best prospect, didn't make any of these positional lists. However, he's likely a top-100 prospect by the reckoning of many, and he could always jump onto the righty list for 2017 once he's a year older and more proven than he is. We'll see, though, as that's a pretty stacked position these days.