Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Tag: andrew benintendi

Top 4 Red Sox Players to Watch in Spring Training

Michael Chavis

Salem Red Sox

The long winter is over and the Red Sox are back on the field in Fort Myers getting ready for (hopefully) a strong 2018 season. Spring Training provides a great opportunity for fans to see current Red Sox players and future prospects on the field together. On the flip side, it can be very difficult to watch a full game over the next month when by the 5th inning most of the players on the field are unfamiliar. In an effort to help everyone focus on just a few names and storylines, here are some prospects (and perhaps a familiar name or two) to watch for during Spring Training.

Michael Chavis

A familiar name to those in the know, Chavis the the #2 prospect in the Red Sox system. The 22-year old 3rd baseman has struggled a bit defensively, but has offensive potential for days. He appears to be on a path to play every day in the big leagues, especially if he can work on his defense. Since the Red Sox have previous #2 ranked prospect Rafael Devers as their 3rd baseman, the team is planning to work Chavis at 1st base this Spring to see if that’s a future role for him in the big leagues. Since his defense isn’t great at 3rd and his bat is really his best quality, there isn’t much risk in trying him at 1st.

Blake Swihart

This season feels make or break for Swihart. After getting a good look in the majors in 2015 (84 games), he hasn’t been able to stay in the big leagues because of injuries and struggles (25 games in 16 and 17). Now that Swihart is healthy and has a full Spring Training to get reps, the catcher/outfielder/first baseman is looking to cement his roster spot this Spring. He is now out of minor-league options, so will likely be on the opening day roster as a bench bat. The Red Sox have also toyed with the idea of trying Swihart in the infield (other than 1st), making him a super-utility player off the bench. Swihart has offensive potential and could be a nice depth piece for this team, but if he struggles this Spring, he may be looking for a new club in a month or two.

Jalen Beeks

Another member of the Red Sox 2014 draft class, Beeks got the nod against the Northeastern Huskies in the Spring Training opener. Beeks was the Red Sox minor league Pitcher of the Year in 2017, posting a strong 11-8 record, 3.29 ERA, and .224 batting average against in 26 starts (145 innings). The lefty was teammates with Andrew Benintendi at the University of Arkansas and now at 24 years old, is starting to gain some experience that should help him become more consistent. He will start 2018 in AAA Pawtucket and on the 40-man roster, making him a potential call-up option in the event of injury to an MLB starter. He’s listed as the #10 prospect in the system, but appears to be getting closer to the doorstep.

Sam Travis

I’m a broken record when it comes to Travis: I think he has the potential to be the everyday 1st baseman in the majors (see my spotlight before his MLB debut). Every time I watch Travis swing the bat, I see his extra-base power potential and really want to see him get the chance to play everyday in the big leagues. He plays hard and grinds with max effort all the time. After a devastating ACL injury sidelined him in 2016 when it looked like he was on the brink of getting the call, Travis missed 10 months and finally came back to play in 82 games in AAA Pawtucket and 23 with the Red Sox in 2017. The #5 prospect now has the chance to enter Spring Training healthy and start on an even playing field with everyone else. He’ll likely see a lot of playing time as the coaching staff gets a good long look at him. I don’t think there is room for him on the MLB roster to start the season, but he should be waiting by the phone in case of injury.

Honorable Mention – J.D. Martinez

If for nothing else but drama, Martinez is my honorable mention. A major signing happening this late is highly unusual and will put J.D. at least a few days behind the rest of his teammates. The fact that he hadn’t officially be introduced as of writing this is a bit concerning, because it is slowing down his acclimation into his new environment. He doesn’t need a long Spring to get ready, most hitters don’t, but don’t underestimate the importance of getting settled and bonding with new teammates before the daily grind of the regular season kicks in.  All eyes will be J.D. once (if) his contract is officially announced.

Andrew Benintendi Makes Catch of the Year

Andrew Benintendi. HOLY CRAP. The day after hitting his first career HR, he makes the catch of the year. Kid’s got potential…

Andrew Benintendi’s First MLB Hit

If Andrew Benintendi develops into the star big-leaguer many think he will, August 3rd, 2016 will be a day to remember. It’s the beginning of a promising career.

Benintendi Only Bright Spot in Loss

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

All the hoopla and attention around the call-up of the Red Sox #1 prospect Andrew Benintendi couldn’t overshadow another low-scoring loss on Wednesday. Rick Porcello allowed 3 solo HRs throughout his complete game outing, but with the Red Sox offense going dormant, it wasn’t enough. The only offensive highlight was from the man himself, Benintendi, who picked up his first and second career MLB hits in his first start.

Neither hit was crushed, but on a night when the opposing pitching staff was shutting down the Red Sox monster offense, the hits were even more impressive. I’m sure it will take some time for Benintendi to get truly comfortable in the big leagues, but last night shows how confident he is in his ability. With tremendous pressure on him, he was composed in the batters box and looked mostly in control throughout the entire game. That is an incredibly important quality and will serve him well as he adjusts to the MLB grind.

Putting the nice Benintendi performance last night aside, this team is struggling right now. With wins by the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles last night, the Red Sox fall 3 games back of 1st in the AL East and 2 games back of 2nd place. There is a long way to go, but with most of the remaining schedule on the road, it will be a tough slog. For the first time in a very long time, the Red Sox are on the outside looking in at a postseason slot.

Benintendi Fever Reaches the Big Leagues

Joel Page/Portland Press Herald

Joel Page/Portland Press Herald

Less than a day after being the subject of many trade talks, Red Sox top prospect Andrew Benintendi is making the big jump from AA Portland to the majors, skipping AAA Pawtucket. The Red Sox hope he will provide some stability in left field once he gets comfortable, which if his short history is any indicator, should take about 2-3 weeks. Is Benintendi ready for the big time? It certainly feels that way.

He began the season as a 21-year old in advanced A Salem and in 34 games, hit .341 and drove in 32 runs while playing a strong outfield defense. After such success in A, Benintendi made the toughest jump in the minor leagues from A to AA. In his 63 games at AA Portland he hit .295 with 8 HRs and drove in 44 runs. He had 70 hits over that span and has continued to be an above average defender, spending time in left field in anticipation of this move. It did take him a few weeks to adjust to AA pitching, but after the adjustment, he has been crushing it.

Benintendi likely won’t play until Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners, but the lefty will get plenty of opportunities to prove himself, because honestly, why else would you call him up? He’s not going to play once a week, he should get at least a split of the left field playing time, if not majority, and perhaps get a start in center or right to spell Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts as well. He still has plenty of developing to do, but now he can do it alongside 2 other young superstars in the making. I know it’s jumping ahead, but how unbelievable could the Red Sox outfield be if Benintendi lives up to expectations? Maybe the best ever.

An interesting point of trivia: The last player to make the jump to the major leagues by skipping AAA…Jackie Bradley Jr.

Yoan Moncada: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

yoan moncada

Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada was in the news on Sunday night after hitting a monster HR and earning the MVP in the Futures Game, an all-star game to honor up-and-coming young baseball stars. Moncada’s stock has continued to rise to new heights and was named the the #1 prospect in baseball mid-season by Baseball America, a jump of 2 spots from his pre-season #3 ranking. The 2nd baseman made the jump from A+ Salem to AA Portland this season and instead of taking time to adjust and get settled, he has torn the cover off the ball.

In 16 games with Portland, Moncada is hitting .328 with 5 HRs and 1 RBIs. Combined with his 61 games in Salem, Moncada is hitting .312 with 9 HRs and 49 RBIs so far this season. He is just 21 years old and not yet knocking on the big league door, but his name is already familiar to many Red Sox fans. With trade talks heating up lately, Moncada’s name in mentioned as an almost untouchable alongside outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who played opposite Moncada in the Futures Game. Watching him in the Futures Game is further proof of why he the Red Sox organization doesn’t want to part with him

I’m a five-tool player. For the ones that have never seen me play, today you’re going to have an opportunity to. -Moncada to press before the Futures Game on Sunday.

For those who don’t know, the Red Sox signed Moncada out of Cuba in 2015 by giving him an outrageous $31.5 million signing bonus. He has a strong personality and exudes confidence in everything he does. He arrived in Spring Training this year showing off the 2 new additions to his car collection, a BMW X6M Lumma Widebody and a Lamborghini. Not the first few purchases I would make with my signing bonus, but then again, I’m not 21 and definitely didn’t just get 10’s of millions of dollars. If he keeps progressing like he has, the $31.5 million will just be the very beginning of his career earnings and the car collection will continue to grow.


Unlikely Trade Partners: Red Sox and Yankees

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Only once since 1997 have the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees been trade partners. That one deal: Stephen Drew was traded to the Yankees for infielder Kelly Johnson and $500K in 2014. The AL East rivals have not been trade bedfellows often over the last few decades, but could this year be the exception? The Red Sox need late-inning relief and the Yankees certainly have some to spare.

When looking back at the history of trading between these two clubs, it’s rare because both teams have to be going in opposite directions to make it work. When both teams are buyers, no one has anything to sell the other and visa versa. The only way a trade would even be discussed between the rivals is if one team was out of contention at the deadline and the other had a legitimate shot at the postseason. This year has the potential to fit that mold.

The Yankees are 38-39 on the season, 9 games back in the division (4th place) and 3.5 games back in the AL Wild Card. If they continue to struggle and a month from now are even further back, they could easily become sellers. The Yankees farm system is ok, but not great, so they could choose to move a bullpen piece like Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller for a top tier prospect like Andrew Benintendi or Yoan Moncada. Chapman is a free agent at the end of the season (making $11+ million this year), so might command less via trade, while Miller is locked up through 2018 at $9 million per year.

A fly in the ointment of this situation is that the Red Sox would need to remain atop the AL Wild Card or near the top of the AL East to be buyers and make a push (and be willing to part with a top prospect). If both of those things align naturally, the situation could result in a trade between AL East rivals. I have a hard time believing it will happen, but stranger things have happened!

Looking into the Red Sox Future

Over the past 5 years, the Red Sox have had some great success drafting and developing young talent. Tonight is the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft and rather than attempt to analyze who the Red Sox might pick, let’s take a look at who they have picked over the past 5 years and see where they are now. Since there are 40 rounds, the focus will be narrowed to top part of the draft and any notable lower picks. For those who are already bored, at least take a look at the 2011 draft, it’s something special!

Round 1
RHP Matt Barnes (UConn)
C Blake Swihart

Compensation Round A
LHP Henry Owens
OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

Rounds 2, 3, and 5 (in order)
OF Williams Jerez
C Jordan Weems
RHP Noe Ramirez
SS Mookie Betts

Round 9
3B Travis Shaw

Arguably the best draft of all time, by any team. Of the top 8 players selected, 6 have seen time with the Boston Red Sox this season (2 are back in AAA Pawtucket) and the other 2 are progressing with the AA Portland Sea Dogs. To prove the point even further, 5 of the top 12 picks are either everyday offensive players or frequent bullpen arms for the Red Sox in 2016, not including the 2 other pitchers in that group who have contributed at the big league level this year.

For those who are unfamiliar with how rare this draft truly was, take a look at the other drafts after this one for the Red Sox. There are usually 1-3 players who make the big leagues or who are waiting in the wings at AAA in a really good draft. This draft, thus far for the Red Sox, has produced 7 legitimate big league players, including a few picks that are on their way to becoming superstars.

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