The 2015 MLB Draft is just days away, and the Houston Astros have two of the top ten picks in the draft – #2 overall and #5. This means that Jeff Luhnow and his crack squad of analysts are crunching numbers and evaluating players like crazy because they have two huge picks to make which could benefit the Astros for years to come. One player they’ll have their eyes on is University of Arkansas outfielder, Andrew Benintendi.
Who is Andrew Benintendi?
Andrew Benintendi, also known as “Benny Baseball,” is a sophomore centerfielder for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He’s a Cincinnati, Ohio native who is listed at 5′ 10″ and 180 lbs, throws and hits left-handed, and has been touted for his speed. He is the 2015 National Player of the Year and he is a Golden Spikes Award finalist.
Playing in the SEC, Benintendi had an unremarkable freshman season, but worked very hard in the offseason before his second year. His 2015 season has been spectacular for the young centerfielder. As of May 31, Benintendi slashed .390/.491/.723 with 83 hits, 18 HRs, 54 RBI in 213 at bats over 60 games. He also has stolen 22 bases in 26 attempts.
The outstanding sophomore effort by Benintendi and the consideration for national awards has him projected as a top-10 pick.
What is Benintendi’s skill set?
Here’s what Scout.com has to say about Andrew Benintendi:
"The positives with him are clear. He is a plus athlete with plus 60-grade speed. He should have no problems sticking in centerfield. His hit tool is above-average. I am tempted to put a future 55+ on it thinking it could be a plus skill down the road. His eye at the plate appears to be plus. He is so quick with the bat that he has really improved at pitch recognition waiting for the right pitch and turning on it quickly. Benintendi is not a big kid at all at 5’10”. So much of his power comes from his bat speed and what appears to be very quick wrists. He gets around on pitches so quickly that the ball flies off his bat. His power is at least an average tool and could surprise some people…The negatives on him are basically the small track record of success and size. He is undersized, which is why I think some people feel like the power isn’t legit."
Scout.com compared Benintendi favorably to the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Calhoun is currently in his third full season with Anaheim, and has batted .270/.328/.436 with 47 doubles, 6 triples, and 30 HRs over his career.
Where is Benintendi projected to get drafted?
Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs – #7 Boston Red Sox
Adam Wells of Bleacher Report – #9 Chicago Cubs
Jim Callis of MLB.com – # 9 Chicago Cubs
John Manuel of Baseball America – #11 Cincinnati Reds
Could the Astros take him?
As you can see from above, Andrew Benintendi is projected to go pretty high in the draft. It looks like he’s averaging around the ninth pick, but the Astros may consider him with the fifth pick. With his speed and power, he should be a top of the order hitter.
In the minor leagues, Houston has some young quality outfielders with Brett Phillips in Lancaster, Teoscar Hernandez in Corpus Christi, Domingo Santana at Fresno. Adding another stud player to that mix is possible.
One thing in Benintendi’s favor is that he’s already had some seasoning in college ball, which could help him reach the majors quickly. On the other hand, he is still really young, as he turns 21 on July 6, so he may need a little more time to mature.
Given that he sort of came out of nowhere and would have to have another remarkable season in college baseball to move even higher, I’d guess he’d sign with any team that takes him with a top-10 pick. He was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds during the 31st round in the 2013 draft, so he’s really boosted his stock.
Keep up with the rest of the series below:
Astros Draft Prospect: Andrew Benintendi
Astros Draft Prospect: Daz Cameron
Astros Draft Prospect: Dillon Tate
Astros Draft Prospect: Alex Bregman
Astros Draft Prospect: Carson Fulmer
CTH Mock Draft (First Five Picks)
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