Benintendi new top prospect ... for now
Red Sox outfielder to lose status soon, with Moncada ranked No. 2
By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com
Andrew Benintendi isn't going to sneak up on anybody this year.
The 22-year-old Red Sox outfielder headlines MLB.com's preseason Top 100 Prospects list, jumping up from No. 25 before the 2016 campaign. Last year saw the University of Arkansas product climb from Class A Advanced to Double-A to the Majors, where he batted .295/.359/.476 with 14 extra-base hits in 34 games before going 3-for-9 with a homer and a double in the American League Division Series.
The performance rocketed Benintendi to the top of the 2017 rankings, but he'll lose prospect status after 25 more Major League at-bats. He projects to join Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts in the Fenway Park outfield at the start of the season.
Outfielder Rafael Devers (No. 17) and left-hander Jason Groome (No. 41) are the only other Red Sox to make the list after the team traded two other prospects in the top 20 spots -- second baseman Yoan Moncada (No. 2) and right-hander Michael Kopech (No. 16) -- to the White Sox in December in the Chris Sale blockbuster. Chicago's offseason work also brought aboard the new No. 12 overall prospect -- right-hander Lucas Giolito -- and No. 46 prospect -- righty Reynaldo Lopez -- in the deal that sent big league outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.
Moncada, Kopech and Giolito give the South Siders more prospects among the top 20 than any other team. Along with Lopez, the system features righty Carson Fulmer (No. 71) and catcher Zack Collins (81) for a total of six players in the Top 100.
MLB.com's 2017 Top 10 Prospects for Opening Day
|1||Andrew Benintendi||OF||Red Sox|
|2||Yoan Moncada||2B||White Sox|
Only the Yankees and Braves boast more Top 100 prospects with seven apiece.
Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres, who was ranked 28th as a Cubs prospect heading into last season, leapt up to No. 3 after coasting through the Class A Advanced level across two leagues as a 19-year-old. The Venezuela native, who was the key Minor League component in the July 25 deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the eventual World Series champions, wrapped up the year by becoming the Arizona Fall League's youngest-ever MVP and batting leader (.403). Clint Frazier, the next-highest-ranked Yankees prospect at 24th, also was a July acquisition. The 22-year-old outfielder came over with southpaw Justus Sheffield (No. 79) and two other pitchers in the deadline deal that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland.
It's not likely to surprise Minor League fans that the Braves placed four pitchers on the list -- lefties Kolby Allard (53) and Sean Newcomb (80) and righties Mike Soroka (78) and Ian Anderson (No. 86) -- nor that their prized middle infielders -- Dansby Swanson (No. 4), Ozzie Albies (No. 11) and 16-year-old Kevin Maitan (32) -- all rank in the top 50.
Other strong systems
The Astros, Pirates, Cubs, Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers and Rockies each landed five prospects on the list. Pittsburgh has two -- righty Tyler Glasnow (No. 9) and outfielder Austin Meadows (No. 10) -- in the top 10
Prospects on the rise
Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger and Cubs outfielder Eloy Jimenez are ranked 13th and 14th, respectively after neither was on last year's preseason list. Two other Dodgers, outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 61) and second baseman Willie Calhoun (No. 82) also played themselves into the rankings for the first time. Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly is ranked 39th after being omitted in 2016. Indians right-hander Triston McKenzie, a 2015 sandwich pick, checks in at No. 57 after a standout performance across the Class A Short Season and Class A levels.
Nationals outfielder Victor Robles, No. 63 last year, jumped all the way up to No. 8. Astros righty Francis Martes moved from 41st in 2016 to No. 20. Top overall Draft pick Mickey Moniak of the Phillies is ranked 19th. Twins southpaw Stephen Gonsalves cracked the list at No. 92 after going 13-5 with a 2.06 ERA across Class A Advanced and Double-A ball.
Familiar hurlers on top
Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes is the highest-ranked pitcher on the list at No. 6, seven spots higher than he was a year ago. Glasnow, who was No. 10 in 2016, ninth. Giolito, Kopech and Martes are the only other pitchers among the top 20 prospects.
Took a dip
Reds righty Robert Stephenson was No. 35 last year, but a subpar season pushed him down to 87th. Fulmer fell from No. 38 after a tough first half in the Double-A Southern League and eight relief appearances in the big leagues. Despite putting up a .281/.341/.480 slash line with 19 homers and 31 doubles in his first full season, Rockies shortstop prospect Brendan Rodgers slipped from 12th to 15th.
Time for a rebuild on the farm?
The Royals, Angels and D-backs placed no prospects on the Top 100 list.