Andrew Benintendi tops Yoan Moncada on Baseball Prospectus’ top-10 Red Sox prospects rankings for 2017.
So why Benintendi over Moncada? It might have something to do with the fact that Jarrett Seidler feels the need to spend a long time explaining why the folks at Baseball Prospectus, as a matter of policy, do not give out 80 grades for the hit tool to minor leaguers. Because they know that Benintendi has as good an argument or better than any other minor leaguer for that grade in that category. In other words, he’d be an 80 if it were possible for them to feel confident enough in that evaluation to hand 80s out before long-term major league exposure.
Benintendi doesn’t quite have that, but what he has shown was enough to earn him first. They set his likely scenario as a first-division outfielder—which he already seems to be—and list his faults as, essentially, not being an exciting defensive center fielder (the Sox, of course, have him in left) and only having average “over-the-fence power”. The Red Sox will live.
Coming in second is, of course, the man he displaced in Yoan Moncada. And the rough 2016 debut did factor into that decision some. BP notes that “there’s always been just a little more swing-and-miss here than there should be given the rest of the profile,” but their biggest concern seems to remain that Moncada still isn’t looking like a great second baseman, which they note is fine because, as with Benintendi in center, that’s not where the Sox need him.
The rest of the list holds relatively few surprises. Rafael Devers holds his now-traditional spot as the best of the rest, who is still a work-in-progress but less so than might be expected from someone his age. “Realest guy in the room” Jason Groome notably stays ahead of Michael Kopech despite the latter coming on extremely strong since returning to the mound. What hits Groome takes for distance from the majors, Kopech takes from BP’s projection that he’ll find his way into the bullpen before all is said and done. And of course, for both, TNSTAAPP applies.
If there’s a line between the top two and the rest, there’s another after Kopech, but the system still stays fairly strong with Luis Alexander Basabe as a high-risk, high-reward prosepct at six (BP, as the rest of us, are still waiting for him to break one way or the other). Mauricio Dubon takes seventh on the backs of a breakout 2016, though there’s more than enough doubt in the power he showed to keep BP from giving him first-division potential. Sam Travis slots in at eighth, which could have been a fair bit higher had he not missed the majority of the season with a torn ACL, Brian Johnson holds on at 9th after a likewise lost season, and Josh Ockimey takes the last spot thats to his big power at the cold corner.
If there’s a notable omission here, it’s probably Bobby Dalbec, who gets some interesting comments in the honorable mentions section that show a divided opinion, with at least one evaluator trying to get him into the top-10 despite some serious warts that led others as far as to suggest he’ll “end up with a bullpen trial.” Ouch!
Also included: a top-10 under 25 list which has Blake Swihart ahead of Eduardo Rodriguez. I have never felt so conflicted in my life.