The Next Benintendi? Red Sox May Target College Players In 2017 MLB Draft

BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox have had an eye toward the future in recent drafts, picking mostly high school players in the first round. But in Monday’s 2017 MLB Draft, they may go back to the college route.

Dave Dombrowski has traded away several of the Red Sox’ top young prospects in his time as Red Sox president of baseball ops, bolstering the major league club in an effort to win a World Series in at least one of the next three seasons. The Red Sox farm system has been restocked with high school-aged first-rounders in recent years, but they will certainly take some time to develop. This year, Dombrowski may be interested in getting more immediate help from players who have had some seasoning at the college level.

Ian Browne’s draft preview at MLB.com hints that the Red Sox may be targeting a college player in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, which begins on Monday at 6 p.m. with the Red Sox holding the 24th overall pick. The early success of 22-year-old Andrew Benintendi at the major league level shows that the Red Sox could land an impact prospect who would have a chance to reach the majors and contribute in 1-2 years’ time.

dl andrew benintendi red sox orioles 6 4 17 The Next Benintendi? Red Sox May Target College Players In 2017 MLB Draft

Andrew Benintendi hits a home run in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on June 4, 2017. Boston won the game 7-3. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Having played two years at Arkansas before turning pro, Benintendi was the first college player drafted by the Red Sox in the first round of the June MLB draft since 2012. That year, they selected Deven Marrero out of Arizona State at No. 24 overall. They also drafted Brian Johnson out of Florida and Pat Light out of Monmouth University as supplemental first-rounders.

Of course, one would assume that starting pitching and power bats would be at the top of any team’s list. But it’s especially true right now for the Red Sox, who entering Monday are 28th in the major leagues with just 58 home runs. They also lack long-term security in the starting rotation, where David Price could opt out after the 2018 season and both Chris Sale and Rick Porcello are only signed through 2019.

Benintendi’s draft class in 2015 has shown how quickly that highly-touted college prospects can make an impact at the major-league level. First overall pick Dansby Swanson, originally drafted by the Diamondbacks, was traded to the Braves and is already their starting shortstop. Second overall pick Alex Bregman is the starting third baseman for the 44-20 Astros.

There’s far less of a guarantee of early success at the end of the first round, but it would not be unprecedented. Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, the 22nd overall pick out of Duke in 2012, went 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA for the Blue Jays in 2014.

The Red Sox’ recent late-first-round picks have taken more than just 1-2 years to make any kind of impact. Jackie Bradley Jr., a 2011 supplemental first-round pick, didn’t play a full season until 2014 and had his first real breakout season in 2016. Marrero is still trying to find a way to stick at the major-league level five years after being drafted.

But considering the Red Sox’ relatively short championship window, it would behoove Dombrowski to pick a player whom he feels would have the best possible chance at contributing in the major leagues as soon as possible.

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