The first time Andrew Benintendi swung a bat in the postseason, he slammed a home run off the Cleveland Indians’ Trevor Bauer. Two games later, Benintendi ripped a double to drive in another run. When Benintendi was lifted for a pinch-hitter before his next plate appearance, so that the rookie left-handed hitter wouldn’t face lefty Andrew Miller, there was probably some degree of relief in the Cleveland dugout. From the first time the Indians began to evaluate Boston before the 2016 American League Division Series through that Game 1 homer and Game 3 double, the Cleveland staff never really identified a weakness to exploit in the Red Sox hitter.
Undoubtedly, pitchers and catchers will make adjustments that will confound Benintendi for a few at-bats, because that happens with every hitter. But Benintendi’s rapid emergence after his call-up from the minors last August demonstrated his acumen, and why rival evaluators hold him in such high esteem. Benintendi holds the No. 1 spot in Keith Law’s prospect ranking this winter.
At worst, it appears that Benintendi will be a solid major-leaguer. And at best, he could be a mirror image of the sort of player that Mookie Betts has become.