FAYETTEVILLE – Andrew Benintendi’s banner college baseball season literally paid off Tuesday.
The University of Arkansas sophomore center fielder selected as the seventh pick in the first round of the Major League draft by the Boston Red Sox, signed with the Red Sox, it was announced Tuesday.
Benintendi is reported to have signed for the No. 7 first-round picks’ fully slotted $3,590,400, surpassing the $3,330.900 that the 2014 seventh pick in the draft, LSU’s Aaron Nola, received in 2014 from the Philadelphia Phillies.
A native of Cincinnati, vastly improved from hitting .276 with one home run as a Razorbacks freshman in 2014, Benintendi, draft eligible as a sophomore turning 21 in July, swept college baseball’s major Player of the Year awards. He also led the SEC in batting average (.376) and led the nation in home runs (20) while knocking in 57 runs with 13 doubles and 50 walks, a .717 slugging percentage, .488 on-base percentage and a team-leading 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts, all the while playing a superb center field.
The left-handed hitting 5-10, 185-pounder, devoting last summer to lifting weights and adding 15 pounds of muscle instead of playing summer ball, was instrumental in coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks righting themselves from an 11-12 overall and 1-5 SEC start to finishing 40-25 overall, 17-12 in the SEC and advancing all the way to the College World Series in Omaha.
For his efforts, Benintendi was voted the Golden Spikes Award, college baseball’s equivalent to college football’s Heisman Trophy, and also was recognized as college baseball’s best player for winning the Dick Howser Trophy.
Publications Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America named Benintendi as their Player of the Year, and SEC coaches voted Benintendi the SEC Player of the Year.
Benintendi became the first Razorback ever honored with the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy and is the first Razorback to be recognized national player of the year by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.
Benintendi is expected to start his professional career assigned to the Lowell Spinners, Boston’s Class A minor league team in Lowell, Mass.