KC Royals: How Andrew Benintendi became himself again

(Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals
(Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

KC Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi made it to the major leagues quickly.

Benintendi was drafted seventh overall by the Red Sox in the 2015 major league draft. He skyrocketed up various prospects lists and was mlb.com’s No.1 2017 preseason prospect. At that time, Fangraphs graded him a 65 future value; according to Fangraphs’ prospect scale, he was an elite hitter with above-average power, above-average fielding ability and above-average speed.

Before making it to the majors, Benintendi appeared in 151 minor league games over two seasons. He slashed .312/.392/.540 with 20 home runs, 26 stolen bases, and a walk rate north of 11%. Benintendi never struck out more than 12% of the time and never posted a wRC+ under 135.

That impressive minor league effort led to a call-up to the Sox directly from Double-A during the 2016 season. He stuck, playing 333 games for Boston from 2016-2018.

In that span, Benintendi slashed .282/.359/.447 with a 113 wRC+. He averaged just 18 home runs per season but hit 78 doubles while earning a 10.5% walk rate and just a 16.9% strikeout rate. He wasn’t a home run king but hit for average, had good doubles power, walked at a strong rate, and managed his strikeouts.

Benintendi looked like a superstar in the making at the end of 2018. He was just 24 and had capped off a special World Series run with the Red Sox; all that was left for him in Boston was to further develop his power and grow into his frame.

And his approach at the plate reflected an emphasis on power. Benintendi’s fairly open stance, big leg kick and upward swing angles looked to produce a higher launch angle and more power.

The quest for power would continue, which ultimately proved costly to the remainder of his production in Boston.