Benintendi gets callup, joins Sox in Seattle

'It's an unreal feeling,' says No. 2 prospect, who will start in LF Wednesday

Benintendi gets callup, joins Sox in Seattle

SEATTLE -- The arrival of the latest Red Sox phenom took place on Tuesday, as Andrew Benintendi soaked in his surroundings at Safeco Field in preparation for his first Major League start in left field on Wednesday night.

The jump from Double-A to the Majors is an impressive one, and Benintendi hopes to justify the faith the Red Sox have put in him. 

"I never expected that," said Benintendi. "I think Mr. Dombrowski (general manager Dave) has said before that he's done it a few times. It was a pleasant surprise and I'm extremely excited to be here. It's something I've dreamed of since I was a kid and to finally be here, it's an unreal feeling."

What to expect from Benintendi in big leagues

Benintendi was deployed as a pinch-hitter and grounded to second in his first career at-bat in Tuesday's 5-4 loss, becoming Boston's first prospect to make his Major League debut one year after he was drafted since Fred Lynn in 1974. He also struck out in the ninth. 

Benintendi's role initially will be to start in left against right-handed pitchers. The No. 7 overall prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com, Benintendi hopes to ride the home-grown wave started in recent years by Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.

"You know, the Killer B's expands with another one," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We know that we have to remain patient. There's going to be varying degrees, varying lengths of time that their transition takes hold. I think the patience that was shown in two tough years is now being paid dividends.

"The fact that we've had, I think, a fairly large group of young players been able to get established, get their feet on the ground, it buys us time with Andrew because I think we have a potent offense ahead of him that you're not looking for him to carry the weight."

One thing Benintendi seems to have going for him is a demeanor as level as his swing.

"I wouldn't say there was any point I was thinking about [playing in the Majors this season]," Benintendi said. "I'm always saying that when I start thinking about things like that, that's when the struggles come. You try to play for that one day and try to win that one game on that one day."

It has been a whirlwind year for Benintendi, who was drafted seventh by the Red Sox last June, and started this season at Class-A Salem. Benintendi moved to Double-A Portland on May 16. Just 10 weeks later, he is with a team that entered Tuesday one game out of first place in the American League East.

Expect a sizable contingent from Benintendi's family to be on a flight from Cincinnati to Seattle in time to catch Wednesday night's game at Safeco Field.

"The first person I called was my dad," Benintendi said. "I couldn't call until about 2 in the morning. They're coming tomorrow, my family, my sister and my mom and some of my uncles."

It was exciting for Benintendi to open his Major League career in Seattle just days before Ken Griffey Jr. has his number 24 retired at Safeco Field.

"Growing up I'd say the person I watched the most was Ken Griffey Jr.," said Benintendi. "I lived 10 minutes from the stadium [in Cincinnati], so I grew up watching him. Obviously he was a great player."

Perhaps someone will say that about Benintendi someday. For now, the Red Sox will look for gradual steps.

"This is a young player that's advanced through the system obviously very quick," said Farrell. "A talented guy, and there's a lot of excitement around him. But there's no question that there's still going to be a learning curve for him here."

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
With a .312/.378/.532 slash line in the Minors this year, Benintendi has proven ready to skip Triple-A and help the Red Sox push toward the postseason. Expected to play left field against right-handed pitching, he should record a high batting mark with a handful of steals and the occasional homer down the stretch. The 22-year-old will likely lack the power and playing time to move the needle in shallow formats right now, but he's worth adding in most standard leagues.

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