The Red Sox have shifted towards a youth movement, that much is for certain.
Where in years past Spring Training was dominated by veterans and bought-talent, now the fields are filled with eager and gunry 20-something year olds all with something to prove. Our best players in Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts are at an age where most kids their age are finishing up college, starting grad school, or just entering the world.
They were followed by prospects such as Yoan Moncada, an infielder signed at 19, and Andrew Benintendi, a 20 year old caught in a whirlwind as one of the most highly toted young outfielders in the Sox system.
Standing at 5’10” and 170 Benintendi is far from the biggest guy on the field but he carries a gargantuan reputation. He left college in favor of the draft after his sophomore year on the heels of winning the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year award, and made his pro debut this past June. Now with 54 pro games under his belt, Benintendi is ready to rise the ranks in the Sox system, and take 2016 by the horns.
“Each day is going to be different,” he said. “You’re going to struggle. You’re going to do well. You can’t really let the past or the day before — whether you had a good day or bad day — dictate the day you have that certain day.”
A good attitude to have for sure.
Now with young prospects there is always a slight danger hidden in the glitz and glamor–what if they get rushed? What if it’s too much too soon? We’ve seen it before, most notably in guys like Will Middlebrooks and to an extent Jackie Bradley Jr (though he’s run into some recent success). While a guy may have all the tools on paper, you really can’t prepare for what could happen on the field when the pressure really begins to mount–while talent is always the biggest factor, the ultimate decision-maker for a prospect is whether he can take the heat and ignore the guys vying for his spot.
Bradley has plenty to say on the subject, especially as a highly toted-yet somewhat failed prospect.
“At that particular time you’re just grateful to be able to play at the next level,” Bradley said. “I think everyone goes into it with an open mind. I did. I was just excited to get my professional career started. I honestly wasn’t even thinking about first-rounder he has to do this, has to do that.
But everyone wants to show the reason they got picked so high is because you were a pretty good ball player and apparently they were a team that thought so, otherwise they wouldn’t have chosen me so high,” Bradley said. “So you want to go out there and prove they were right for picking you.”
True words JBJ, true words. Hopefully the Sox can learn from their past mistakes and give Benintendi, and Moncada, the time they need.
Though judging by the way Benintendi hacks at the ball, I think he’ll do just fine:
(side note, imagine him, Mookie, and JBJ in a few years… it’s just not fair).