SEATTLE — Make way for Andrew Benintendi with the Boston Red Sox.
After refusing to include Benintendi in any deals before the trade deadline, the Red Sox plan to call up their 2015 first-round draft pick and top outfield prospect from Double-A Portland on Tuesday to join their road trip in Seattle, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski confirmed to ESPN late Monday night.
Benintendi, 22, is batting .312 with 31 doubles, 12 triples, nine home runs and a .910 OPS in 97 games between two minor league levels this season. He was promoted to Double-A on May 15, and after a slow start, he’s 54-for-159 with 14 doubles, four triples, eight homers, 19 walks, only 17 strikeouts and a 1.037 OPS in his past 43 games.
Benintendi was ranked No. 3 by ESPN in Keith Law’s midseason Top 50 prospects.
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Asked earlier Monday if he expected either Benintendi or fellow top prospect Yoan Moncada to make a contribution at the big league level this season, Dombrowski said, “Maybe. It could be. They’re close enough that they could be. I’m not making that prediction, but they could be.”
In late June, Dombrowski balked at the idea of rushing Benintendi to the big leagues after veteran outfielder Chris Young strained his hamstring. It wasn’t so much that Dombrowski was averse to calling players up directly from Double-A, but rather that he believed Benintendi needed more at-bats at that level.
But the wheels were set in motion for Benintendi’s eventual call-up when he began playing left field last month for Portland. Injuries to Brock Holt, Young and Blake Swihart have forced the Red Sox to use six left fielders. Lately, Holt has been splitting time in left field with righty-swinging Bryce Brentz, who was batting .288 with one homer and seven RBIs entering Monday night’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners.
Benintendi’s arrival will allow the Red Sox to take advantage of Holt’s versatility and use him in the utility role in which he’s most effective.
The Red Sox have not called up a player directly from Double-A since center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team out of spring training in 2013 without having played at Triple-A. Bradley went 3-for-31 with 12 strikeouts in his first 12 games and was promptly sent to Triple-A.
By calling up Benintendi now, the Red Sox are hoping for a jolt similar to the one provided by shortstop Xander Bogaerts when he was called up in August 2013. Bogaerts wasn’t an everyday player immediately but took over as the third baseman midway through the playoffs and helped the Red Sox win the World Series.