Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi both jumped straight to the Boston Red Sox from Double-A Portland, but it appears the team’s top two prospects won’t share the same experience at the big league level this season.
Moncada has struggled mightily at the plate of late, striking out in each of his last eight plate appearances. That brutal stretch has relegated the rookie third baseman to the bench in three straight games, including Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to manager John Farrell, the bench is where Moncada will stay for Boston’s stretch run.
“This is a great learning experience for Yoan,” Farrell said before Saturday’s game, via ESPN.com. “I think while he got a boost of confidence by coming to the big leagues, you get challenged a little bit and you have to take a step back to rebuild that. Our primary goal is to win. Development in this situation does not take a front seat.”
Moncada certainly has shown promise, as he tallied four hits over his first two starts after getting called up Sept. 2. But the 21-year-old still has a lot to learn, as he demonstrated Saturday during an appearance as a pinch-runner.
Moncada ran for David Ortiz at first base with two outs in the eighth inning. When Mookie Betts hit a shallow pop fly to right field, however, Moncada froze between first and second base, seemingly forgetting there were two outs and he should be running on contact.
The Red Sox’s top prospect likely will be used often as a pinch-runner and pinch-hitter, but the team is hoping that taking a seat will prevent him from replicating those mental lapses, which Farrell clearly wasn’t happy about after Saturday’s game.
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Blue Jays:
— The Red Sox continue to struggle in close games, as Saturday marked the club’s sixth consecutive one-run loss. Boston now is 16-21 in one-run games this season.
— Dustin Pedroia tallied his 13th home run of the year with a solo shot in the sixth. The Red Sox second baseman already has surpassed his home run total from last season (12), and his 13 homers are the most he’s hit in a season since 2012.
— Boston’s late-inning bullpen experiment continued Saturday, as Joe Kelly was called on to pitch the eighth in a one-run game. The right-hander did his part, walking Troy Tulowitzki but striking out Russell Martin and Melvin Upton Jr. in a scoreless frame.
Farrell hinted Friday that Koji Uehara likely will be the Red Sox’s setup man once he gets a few more post-disabled list appearances under his belt, but Kelly might challenge Uehara for that role.
— After running the bases during pregame Friday, Benintendi got some fielding work in before Saturday’s contest and is scheduled to participate in a simulated game Tuesday at Fenway Park, with Henry Owens among those throwing pitches.
“We’ll… likely put together a sim game that has Henry on the mound, probably some other pitchers that haven’t been in games (and) will be able to get some at-bats for Andrew and other guys,” Farrell said of Benintendi before the game, via WEEI.com. “… Once we get through and get him through half a dozen at-bats at least on Tuesday, we might be in a position where we could see him on the field shortly after that.”
The rookie outfielder has been on the disabled list since Aug. 25 with a sprained left knee.
Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images