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How Red Sox first-round pick Andrew Benintendi became the player he is today

06.09.15 at 1:24 am ET
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The Red Sox selected Arkansas outfielder Andrew Beninitendi No. 7 overall in Monday's MLB draft. (Photo courtesy of Razorback Communications)

The Red Sox selected Arkansas outfielder Andrew Beninitendi No. 7 overall in Monday’s MLB draft. (Photo courtesy of Razorback Communications)

Red Sox first-round pick and No. 7 overall, sophomore outfielder Andrew Benintendi out of the University of Arkansas has the ability to one day to become a star in Boston. But, back home in Madeira, Ohio and Madeira High School, he already is a superstar.

Graduating in a class with just over 125 students and living in such a small town, Benintendi has been all the buzz of late, as not only are his Arkansas Razorbacks heading to the College World Series, his name was called by the Red Sox No. 7 overall in the 2015 MLB draft Monday night.

“If I ever drew up a perfect kid, it would have been Andrew Benintendi,” Jack Kuzniczci, Benintendi’s high school coach (now retired), said late Monday night.

(Ironically, Benintendi is the second Red Sox first-round pick Kuzniczci has coached, as he coached 1996 first-round selection Josh Garrett one summer in Indiana, although he never amounted to anything.)

Benintendi starred at Madeira on the diamond, as he was a four-year starter and the left-handed hitter finished his career as the all-time Ohio runs leader (35 more than the player behind him), second in hits and in the top five in RBIs.

During his senior season he was drafted by the Reds in the 31st round, but he didn’t sign and went on to play at Arkansas. He even was a pitcher in his early years, throwing 88 mph in a championship game as a sophomore before becoming exclusively an outfielder for his senior year.

From the day he got him, Kuzniczci knew he had a special player.

“He was very easy for me to coach because he was a very smart kid,” he said. “His parents are just great people. He always respects his elders and coaches. He picked up things so fast. We let kids steal on their own and he took that by the horns and he loved it. A lot of coaches give signs, but I let Andrew steal on his own. He absolutely loved it. He learned the game so quick. He’s an incredibly smart kid, a good-looking kid. He didn’t chase the girls around either, so it was kind of nice to have a kid that wasn’t girl crazy. Never a problem with grades.”


It wasn’t just the baseball field Benintendi starred on, he also was an exceptional basketball player.

Benintendi holds the school record for points (1,753), free throws, three-pointers and steals. His junior year, he was one of the Division 3 Players of the Year in the state of Ohio and was named to the All-State team both his junior and senior years.

All this while this wasn’t even his No. 1 sport.

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Ben Cherington: ‘It was obvious’ for Red Sox to take Arkansas OF Andrew Benintendi No. 7 overall

06.08.15 at 11:46 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

With the No. 7 overall pick in the MLB draft, it was a big deal for the Red Sox organization, as it’s not very often they will have such a high pick — it was the third time in 48 years they had a top 10 pick.

Even with how important of a selection it was, the Red Sox had no doubts when they selected Arkansas outfielder and left-handed hitting Andrew Benintendi Monday night in the first-round of the 2015 MLB draft.

“Despite only two years of college baseball, there’€™s quite a bit of history that we have with him going back to high school and he’€™s someone who’€™s always played at the highest level of competition that’€™s been available to him, whether it’€™s been in high school or college and put that together with his performance, his physical skills and getting to know him as a person as we were able to do this spring, just throw it all together and when it got time to our pick at 7, he was the top player on the board, it was obvious who we were taking,” general manager Ben Cherington said on a conference call. “We’€™re really excited to take him.”

Benintendi broke out as a college sophomore, hitting .380 with 19 homers and 23 stolen bases while leading the Razorbacks to the College World Series this week. Prior to this season, he wasn’t on many team’s draft boards.

The 20-year-old was excited to be selected by the Red Sox.

“€œObviously it’€™s a great organization and they’€™ve got great history,” he said. “Growing up I was a big red sox fan and I looked up to Dustin Pedroia, obviously not the biggest guy but the way he competes and the way he works, it’€™s motivating for me. Being picked, it was extremely exciting. my family was here, my mom, and dad and two sisters. I put in a lot of hard work to get to this point. It’€™s starting to pay off and definitely have a lot more work to do, but I’€™m extremely excited and it’€™s going to be exciting to start.”€

The center fielder was drafted two years ago by the Reds, but didn’t sign. The Red Sox had contact with him then too, so they have known him for awhile and kept tabs on him ever since he didn’t sign. He really got their attention again this year, as he was named the SEC’s Player of the Year.

As for what they hope to get out of him, director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard seeings him having a top of the order type bat.

“As far as the player and his toolset, we think Andrew is a very well rounded player,” Rikard said. “There are so many things we like about him, he’€™s very athletic, he can run, he can play center field, we see him eventually as a top of the order type of bat.”

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Red Sox select OF Andrew Benintendi with No. 7 overall pick in MLB draft

06.08.15 at 7:51 pm ET
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For just the third time in the last 48 years, the Red Sox had a pick in the top 10 of the MLB draft and for the second time in three years they had the No. 7 overall pick. With a selection so high, the organization is hoping to take advantage and select their next potential big-name player.

With the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 draft, the Red Sox selected University of Arkansas outfielder and left-handed hitter Andrew Benintendi. For the first time since taking Deven Marrero in 2012 they took a college player with their first selection in the draft.

Benintendi, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore was the SEC Player of the Year this past year, hitting .390 with 18 homers and 22 stolen bases.

Below is ESPN draft insider Keith Law’s pre-draft writeup on Benintendi:

Benintendi burst on the scene this year as a draft-eligible sophomore, becoming the first Razorbacks player to win SEC Player of the Year. His freshman-year output was dampened by injury, but Benintendi showed unexpected power this season with a high-leverage swing that some scouts fear won’t work as well with wood as it does with composite bats.

He’s a 55 runner who should stay in center field at least in the short term, where he’d project as at least an above-average regular thanks to his plate discipline and what should end up as at least average power. If he has to move to a corner, he’ll need to maintain more of that power production to remain more than just a solid regular.

For more draft and Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz only Red Sox players making noise in All-Star voting

06.08.15 at 4:30 pm ET
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The All-Star Game doesn’€™t belong to the Red Sox anymore.

Voting totals were released on Monday, and only two Red Sox rank in the top five at their positions. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are fourth at second base and designated hitter, respectively, but neither is close to the lead.

That’s partly because the Red Sox have underachieved all season, but also because Royals fans have voted en masse to turn the Mid-Summer Classic into a game between the best players in the National League and Kansas City’s starting nine.

The Royals lead in the voting ‘€“ and mostly by insurmountable margins ‘€“ at every position except second base and Mike Trout.

Houston’s Jose Altuve is the leader at second, holding a slim lead of 150,000 votes on Kansas City’s Omar Infante. Altuve’s 2.8 million votes dwarf Pedroia’s total of 726,000.

The story is similar at DH, where Kansas City’s Kendrys Morales holds a small lead on Mariners masher Nelson Cruz, with nearly five times as many votes as Ortiz’s 690,000.

The only other Red Sox player on the list is outfielder Hanley Ramirez, who ranks 11th.

If the game, which will be played in Cincinnati, were held today, the starters would be Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (C), Eric Hosmer (1B), Mike Moustakas (3B), Alcides Escobar (SS), Lorenzo Cain (OF), and Alex Gordon (OF), along with Morales, Altuve, and Trout.

Woman hit by broken bat at Fenway Park upgraded to fair condition

06.08.15 at 4:04 pm ET
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A fan is carted off the field after getting hit in the head with a bat and suffering serious injuries. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tonya Carpenter is now listed in fair condition after getting hit with a broken bat at Fenway Park Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tonya Carpenter, the 44-year-old woman who was struck by a broken bat at Fenway Park Friday night, has been upgraded to fair condition, according to a statement released by her family.

Initial reports indicated that Carpenter had suffered life-threatening injuries, and her family said she was in a serious condition in a statement released Saturday. Fortunately, her condition has since improved.

“Tonya is responsive, and her condition has been upgraded from serious to fair,” her family said in a statement, according to NECN. “We would like to thank everyone for their continued support, especially the fans at Fenway Park, first responders, Boston EMS, Boston Police and her care team at Beth Israel Deaconess.”

The incident occurred in the second inning of Friday night’s game when Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie‘s bat shattered, sending a piece flying into the stands. The game was delayed for several minutes as Carpenter was carried off the field on a stretcher.

MLB mock draft roundup: Who will Red Sox take at No. 7 overall?

06.08.15 at 2:00 pm ET
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With the MLB draft kicking off Monday night and the Red Sox holding the No. 7 overall pick, there is a great deal of buzz with who the team will select.

Taking a general consensus from the national draft experts, there is no one specific player connected to the Red Sox, although it appears they will take a college player for the first time in two years with their first pick.

Here is a look at who the national pundits have the Red Sox taking:

Jim Callis (MLB.com): Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt University
Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com): Andrew Benintendi, OF, University of Arkansas
Keith Law (ESPN.com, Insider Only): Ian Happ, INF/OF, University of Cincinnati
Baseball America: Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt University
Bleacher Report: Daz Cameron, OF, Eagle Landing Christian School (Ga.)
Sports Illustrated: Andrew Benintendi, OF, University of Arkansas

For more draft and Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox draft: How is best player available determined?

06.08.15 at 11:48 am ET
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The Red Sox selected Trey Ball No. 7 overall in the 2013 MLB draft, the last time they picked No. 7 overall. (Gail Oskin/Getty Images)

The Red Sox selected Trey Ball No. 7 overall in the 2013 MLB draft, the last time they picked No. 7 overall. (Gail Oskin/Getty Images)

No matter where a team selects in the first round of the MLB draft, more often than not the organization says it will take the best player available.

But, what exactly does that mean, especially when you are selecting from such a wide range of players — varying from 18-year-old high school pitchers who haven’t fully developed to 22-year-old college position players who may have already reached their full potential?

With the Red Sox picking No. 7 overall in Monday’s MLB draft, how do they determine the best available player? Director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard was asked that question on last Friday’s pre-draft conference call.

“One of the things we really try and do is be very considerate of all the variables that go into weighing where you stack a positional player, or how you stack up your board,” he said. “As you can imagine when you’re considering, for example a high school pitcher, the overall synopsis for that type of player is going to be much different for say a college position player. Sometimes you end up getting into conversations where you’re making comparisons in what seems to be apples and oranges and that can be different. We try and find the best ways to systematically weigh the risk, weigh the upside, consider the track record of each player, health, make up. So there’s a number of things that can go into how you consider each player and ultimately how you stack up your draft board.”

For the most part the Red Sox have taken a variety of players with their first overall pick in recent drafts — selecting college pitchers, high school pitchers, college position players and high school position players all in the last 10 years.

Here is a list of the Red Sox’ top overall picks in the last 10 years:

2005: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Oregon State
2006: Jason Place, INF, Wren High School (S.C.)
2007: Nick Hagadone, LHP, University of Washington
2008: Casey Kelly, RHP, Sarasota High School (Fla.)
2009: Reymond Fuentes, OF, Fernando Callejo High School (P.R.)
2010: Kolbrin Vitek, INF, Ball State University
2011: Matt Barnes, RHP, University of Connecticut
2012: Deven Marrero, INF, Arizona State
2013: Trey Ball, LHP, New Castle High School (Ind.)
2014: Michael Chavis, INF, Sprayberry High School (Ga.)

It is anyone’s best guess who the Red Sox will take at No. 7 Monday night, but the organization will have done its background work and factored in everything imaginable before making the selection.

For more draft coverage and Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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David Ortiz: ‘I’m not washed up — I guarantee you that’

06.08.15 at 10:09 am ET
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Reports of David Ortiz’s demise are a little premature — at least according to David Ortiz.

A few days after Ortiz failed to show his usual spark when asked by Steve Burton of WBZ-TV if he was washed up, the designated hitter was far more firm in his response Saturday.

“I’m not washed up,” he said. “I guarantee you that. I can wake up and hit, bro. That’s my nature. I’m not washed up.”

Ortiz, who is hitting just .219/.298/.375 with six home runs and 21 RBIs, said Burton’s question was insulting, although it apparently took a few days to sink in.

“I was asked on camera the other day if I was washed up. And I pretty much didn’t react to it, but I thought that was very disrespectful,” Ortiz said before Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the A’s. “You don’t disrespect people like that, you know what I’m saying? I’ve come a long way, and everyone knows my status, and to come and wipe it in my face just because things are not going well right now, I don’t think the question was fair. That tells tells me how things are around here. People forget too fast, and I don’t think it’s right.”

Added Ortiz: “The reason why I didn’t get mad is because every time I get mad, I’m the bad guy. If I blow up, I’m the bad guy.

“And my [expletive] is not going to finish like this, I’ll tell you that right now. I’m not going to end up like this. But you know what? Every time Papi makes some noise, it’s, ‘Papi’s greedy, Papi’s this, Papi’s that.’ That [question] was messed up, and because I know it was messed up, I didn’t react to it. But I’m not washed up. I’m not. You know why? Because they pitch me very carefully. If they don’t, I make them pay. All of them [expletive] who say I’m washed up, tell them to sit down and watch the game.”

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Monday Red Sox Farm Report: Garin Cecchini grand slam propels Pawtucket; Manuel Margot, Jake Romanski lead Salem offense in win

06.08.15 at 9:47 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (28-29): W, 7-2, at Syracuse (Nationals)

— After a single off the bat of Allen Craig and a pair of walks by Travis Shaw and Deven Marrero loaded the bases in the fifth inning, first baseman Garin Cecchini hit a grand slam to right to break open a one-run game. The 24-year-old finished the day 2-for-5, raising his average to .192. Cecchini’€™s grand slam was the first of the year for Pawtucket.

–€” Marrero also had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a leadoff home run to center in the second, a walk and two runs scored. Marrero, a 24-year-old who was a first-round pick in 2012, improved his average to .243 and now has four home runs and 17 RBIs on the season.

–€” In addition to Cecchini, Jackie Bradley Jr., Quintin Berry, Humberto Quintero and Craig all posted two-hit games.

— Keith Couch earned the win, allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts over seven innings of work. The 25-year-old righty improved to 3-6 on the season and lowered his ERA to 4.73.

–€” Right-hander Doug Fister started for Syracuse, making his first rehab appearance since landing on the DL with a strained flexor tendon in his throwing arm. Fister took the loss Sunday, allowing two runs and seven hits –€” including Marrero’€™s solo shot — with six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of work.

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Unsung hero Steven Wright on 2 days rest comes up big for Red Sox in comeback win

06.07.15 at 7:27 pm ET
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Steven Wright pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief on two days rest to pick up in the win. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Steven Wright pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief on two days rest to pick up in the win. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Not to be forgotten because of the seven-run eighth inning in the Red Sox‘ 7-4 comeback win over the A’s, is arguably the unsung hero of the game, Steven Wright.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “Joe Kelly will pitch Friday here against Toronto and that puts Steven Wright into the bullpen as of today.”

And when Farrell said today, he actually meant today.

After throwing 92 pitches Thursday against the Twins, Wright was called on Sunday following Clay Buchholz going just 4 2/3 innings and allowing four runs. Wright gave the Red Sox 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, to pick up the win.

Even though he was on just two days rest, Wright said he knew there was a chance he could get called upon.

“Once they put you in the pen, there’s always a chance you’re going to go in,” Wright said.

Wright said it was the fastest turnaround he’s ever experienced between starting and relieving, but said it wasn’t a big deal mentally and didn’t need to do anything different physically.

“No. I throw knuckleballs, man,” he said with a chuckle.

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