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Benintendi slugs first multi-homer game

Red Sox first-rounder goes deep twice, has three homers in two games
August 11, 2015

In his first couple weeks as a professional ballplayer, Andrew Benintendi was trying to see how New York-Penn League pitchers would approach him. Now, he has an idea, and the pitchers are paying the price.

The No. 6 Red Sox prospect and the seventh overall pick in the 2015 Draft notched his first multi-homer game as a pro Tuesday afternoon to lead Class A Short Season Lowell to an 8-4 win over Tri-City at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

Even after rain delayed the game's start by an hour, Benintendi didn't have to wait long for his first long ball of the day. The left-handed-hitting center fielder pulled an 0-2, down-and-in changeup from ValleyCats right-handed starter Ralph Garza just over the wall in right in the first inning. His second homer of the day -- also a solo blast -- didn't come until the ninth, when reliever Kevin McCanna threw a fastball middle-away and Benintendi smashed it out the other way to left-center. Together with a leadoff single in the seventh, he finished 3-for-5, equaling his season high for hits in a single game. 

The two homers gave the University of Arkansas product three roundtrippers in his last two games after he went deep and walked four times (once intentionally) in a 7-4 win at Tri-City on Monday.

Benintendi didn't have an exact reason behind the recent mini power surge but said he'll take it all the same.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I'm just trying to hit it hard, really. Sometimes, homers come in bunches like this, and I'm not going to complain."

In the bigger picture, though, there is something to be said for the way Benintendi has been performing lately. 

After making his debut with the Spinners on July 3, the 21-year-old outfielder hit .229 through the end of July (21 games) but was taking plenty of walks. He earned a free pass in 20.9 percent of his plate appearances, resulting in a robust .396 on-base percentage over that time. A part of that had to do with Benintendi's willingness to watch pitches and learn what opposing pitchers were trying to do with him. It didn't take too long to figure that out.

"They were trying to stay away early in the count, whether it was with the offspeed or a fastball," he said. "Then, they would bust me in more with two strikes. That was a little different than in college. Here, guys can command the fastball a whole lot more. So now that I'm aware of what they can do, I can focus more on squaring it up and using left field more if they stay away."

With that strategy in mind, Benintendi's results in August have changed. His three non-intentional walks Monday were his first of the month, and after Tuesday's showing, he's hitting .382 (13-for-34) with three homers, a triple and a .421 OBP. For the season, he has a .279/.403/.548 line with seven homers, three triples, a double and six steals in 30 games. It's not quite the .376/.488/.717 line with 20 homers and 24 steals he had in 65 games with the Razorbacks during his Golden Spikes-winning sophomore campaign this spring, but Benintendi has a reason behind that as well, beyond just the more advanced pitching of the Minors.

"Just switching to a wood bat was the biggest transition, really," he said. "It took a little longer to get used to it than I would have liked. The metal bat has a lot more flex, and obviously, the wood bat doesn't flex nearly as much. I was getting jammed a lot in those first couple games while I got used to it. But I feel pretty comfortable now."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.