Benintendi, Moncada to oppose each other in Futures Game

Boston's No. 1 and No. 3 prospects will face off Sunday in San Diego

Benintendi, Moncada to oppose each other in Futures Game

With Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada both tearing it up at Double-A Portland of late, the anticipation continues to build for the Boston Red Sox and their fans.

Moncada signed a record-setting $31.5 million deal for an international amateur in February 2015. Just four months later, the Red Sox scooped Benintendi up with the seventh overall pick in the Draft.

They are two of the fastest-rising prospects to come through the organization, making it fair to wonder when they will arrive in Boston.

For now, the Red Sox are just proud that two players of this caliber will represent them at Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in San Diego, which can be seen live on MLB Network and at 7 p.m. ET.

"The Futures Game is an exciting experience for our players, and we are certainly pleased with the progress Andrew and Yoan have shown, which has allowed them to be considered for this opportunity," said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett.

While fans -- and yes, media also -- frequently light up Twitter anointing Moncada and Benintendi as potential cornerstones, the Red Sox work as an organization to help the players tune out the noise and stay focused on the task at hand.

MLB ranks Moncada as No. 1 among Boston's prospects and Benintendi at No. 3.

"Both players have done a great job of limiting the distractions that came along with the attention given to their signings," Crockett said. "Each has worked hard, stayed focused on the process and brought a positive attitude to the park each day."

Their paths to Portland were quite different, of course.

Moncada came over from Cuba and had to acclimate to an entirely new culture. Benintendi, on the other hand, was perhaps the best hitter in college in 2015, but he competes in a sport where nearly everyone has more size than he does.

A center fielder and left-handed hitter, Benintendi moved up to Portland on May 16 and took a while to adjust to the pitching at that level. He had a .203 average when he left the ballpark on June 8. Entering action on Thursday, he was up to .284 and has also demonstrated power.

Top Prospects: Benintendi, BOS

"I'm very happy with the progress Andrew has made and really believe that his early adjustment period to Double-A will be beneficial to him down the road when he next faces performance struggles," Crockett said. "He continues to work on consistency across his game, pitch selection and approach at the plate, and on defense and baserunning."

If Benintendi looks undersized in a uniform, Moncada has the type of body even veteran Major Leaguers are envious of. Back in Spring Training, Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly called him the strongest second baseman he has ever seen.

With Dustin Pedroia signed with Boston through 2021, it's more than likely that Moncada will switch positions at some point in the not too distant future.

A switch-hitter, Moncada notched a .293 average with three homers, 11 RBIs and a .908 OPS in his first 14 games for Portland, starting on June 21.

"Yoan has taken big strides from Spring Training in 2015," said Crockett. "He now really understands the expectations and daily grind required to play professional baseball. He's become more process-oriented on both sides of the ball, and understands the smaller adjustments needed to keep refining his game. Off the field, he's really integrated into the clubhouse culture and has created close relationships with his teammates and coaches."

On Sunday, Moncada (who is on the World roster) and Benintendi (U.S. roster) will play against each other. After that, they will again join forces and wear the same uniform, perhaps all the way up to the Major Leagues.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.