Despite making several blockbuster trades over the last 18 months, the Red Sox still have the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball in their organization.
Three of the four major scouting publications -- that is Baseball America, MLB.com, and ESPN -- have all ranked outfielder Andrew Benintendi the game's top prospect heading into the 2017 season. The four publications all released their annual top-100 prospects list in recent weeks.
Baseball Prospectus, whose list is currently available in their annual but not online, ranked Benintendi as the game's third-best prospect behind Cardinals righty Alex Reyes and Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. Benintendi and Swanson are the only prospects to rank in the top five of all four top-100 lists.
Benintendi remains rookie eligible thanks to a minor knee injury last season. The Red Sox called him up in early August and finished the season with 105 big league at-bats. Had he not missed three weeks with the knee injury, Benintendi would have eclipsed MLB's rookie limit of 130 at-bats. Instead, he remains Rookie of the Year eligible for 2017.
During his two months with the Red Sox, the 22-year-old Benintendi hit .295/.359/.476 (117 OPS+) with two homers in 34 games. That was after hitting .312/.378/.532 with nine homers in 97 minor league games. Benintendi also did this while in the big leagues last year:
To call Benintendi's rise to the top prospect in baseball meteoric would be an understatement. He hit .276/.368/.333 with one home run as a freshman at Arkansas in 2014. Benintendi then broke out and hit .376/.488/.717 with 20 home runs as a sophomore in 2015 and won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur player in the country.
The Red Sox selected Benintendi, a draft-eligible sophomore because he turned 21 within 45 days of the draft, with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft and gave him a $3.59 million bonus. Fourteen months later, he was in the big leagues. Benintendi went from light-hitting college freshman to major-leaguer in less than two calendar years. Pretty remarkable.
Last year all four scouting publications ranked Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Seager was named NL Rookie of the Year unanimously in 2016. He also finished third in the NL MVP voting. Seager, similar to Benintendi, got his first taste of the show in the second half of the 2015 season.
Benintendi is expected to be Boston's full-time left-fielder in 2017, joining Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts in arguably the game's best outfield. Manager John Farrell has indicated he may bat Benintendi second this season as well.