Home / Sports / Forget a payrolls: Walker Buehler, Andrew Benintendi uncover how Dodgers, Red Sox stay ahead

Forget a payrolls: Walker Buehler, Andrew Benintendi uncover how Dodgers, Red Sox stay ahead

LOS ANGELES – It’s easy to hurl your eyes during this World Series matchup and boot it as a conflict of big-market behemoths, these Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers still personification merely given they arrange No. 1 and 3 in payroll and suffer resources over roughly any other franchise.

Yet, it’s not usually income that rises these teams above all a others. Two examples will be on arrangement when Game 3 commences Friday night during Dodger Stadium.

Walker Buehler and Andrew Benintendi aren’t nine-figure giveaway agents, like J.D. Martinez and David Price, nor big-bucks general investments like Yasiel Puig or Hyun-Jin Ryu. They were Southeastern Conference rivals, blossoming in plain steer as a 2015 breeze approached, and in Buehler’s box accessible to 23 other teams before a Dodgers comparison him.

Friday, Buehler will take a pile for Game 3, a Dodgers’ best wish to puncture into a 2-0 World Series deficit. Benintendi, with 4 hits in Game 1 and a pivotal travel and ballet-like obstacle in left margin in Game 2, is presumably median to a Series MVP trophy.


That they’re in such high-leverage spots hardly 3 years private from college is a covenant not to their teams’ money though to culture, and a good happening of removing drafted by clubs who, while distant from perfect, trust and commission their scouting and growth wing.

“Looking behind now, I’m unequivocally advantageous to have gotten to this kind of organization,” Buehler, 24, told USA TODAY Sports. “There were 23 good players taken in front of me. we know a lot of them personally. And some of a growth didn’t happen, or a classification put them in a bad position, or something like that.

“I was happy a Dodgers picked me, and we consider they done a good pick. But a growth is a outrageous partial of it. The breeze is a uncanny conditions where a aloft we go, a worse a group you’re on. There’s not a lot of feeble run, unequivocally good teams. So, to get drafted where we was, it’s a steppingstone into being where we am today.”

Fourteen of a 42 picks in 2015’s initial turn have done a vital leagues. Only Alex Bregman, a No. 2 altogether collect by a Houston Astros, has constructed some-more Wins Above Replacement (14.2) than Benintendi (7.0) and Buehler (3.3).

While there weren’t many flat-out misses in a half-dozen picks before a Red Sox chose Benintendi seventh overall, a jury is out on a poignant series of picks that came before a Dodgers chose Buehler during 24.

Like any breeze prospect, Buehler and Benintendi had their warts. Buehler had a refractory bend his youth year during Vanderbilt and eventually compulsory Tommy John surgery, as teams suspected. At 5-10 and 170 pounds, Benintendi had a comparatively tiny support for a dilemma outfielder, and usually one prolific deteriorate during Arkansas to his name.

That both clubs staid on a right man was a delight of trust, and, well, process.

The Red Sox’s Benintendi dossier extended to high school, when area executive John Pyle remarkable his auspicious athleticism examination him play basketball. Benintendi held a eye of Plains-area Red Sox executive Chris Mears during a Connie Mack contest in Farmington, N.M.

In a turn of fate, Mears was reassigned a some-more fruitful Southeast as Benintendi headed to Arkansas. A equivocal mania was hatched.

After an injury-plagued beginner season, Benintendi eschewed a summer wood-bat circuit and stayed during Arkansas, gaining strength, honing his proceed and rising for his sophomore year a opposite player.

“My beginner year,” says Benintendi, “I was attack leadoff and would slap a round a other way.

“My sophomore year was when we flattering many said, ‘Screw that, I’m usually going to expostulate a ball.’ Ever given then, we am where we am.”

He led a SEC in batting normal and home runs, though with a Red Sox holding an uncharacteristically high collect after a 71-91 season, tip government would need convincing.

Mears says he was as many tender by Benintendi’s still certainty as he was a pleasing swing. He incited in what Mike Rikard, using his initial breeze as a Red Sox’s scouting director, termed “a unequivocally assertive report.”

“It was an eye-opener,” says Rikard, now a Red Sox’s clamp boss of scouting. “We had no timber bat history. And on tip of that, he was kind of a tiny player.”

This is where smoothness matters: Mears, Rikard and a cackle of Red Sox scouts have been with a classification during slightest 11 years. They also survived a front-office inform when former GM Ben Cherington was transposed after in 2015.

When Mears penned that assertive report, Rikard knew where he was entrance from. And finally went to see Benintendi himself, during a indicate he’d struck out usually 6 times that season.

“I saw 4 at-bats,” Rikard recalls, “and he struck out in 3 of them. My head’s spinning a bit. Needless to say, after that diversion we altered my moody unequivocally fast and stranded around a subsequent day.

“It was critical for me to not be realistic formed on what we saw.”

Meanwhile, a bar analyzed a vital joining story of players Benintendi’s tallness and weight and found auspicious formula that dovetailed with Mears’ comparison of Benintendi to a immature Jacoby Ellsbury.

By breeze day, Benintendi was No. 2 on a Red Sox’s board, behind usually Bregman.

“We’ve been together for a long, prolonged time,” says Rikard. “Knowing any other has been a outrageous partial of a success. We have smoothness and know any other’s subjectivity.”

Says Mears: “A lot of unequivocally good things occur here that we can see are formed on a trust we have in one another.”

Some 3,000 miles opposite a country, a new Dodgers regime led by boss of round operations Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi was using a initial draft.

Zaidi says a Dodgers regarded Buehler as a tip 10 talent – they weren’t alone there – though an disproportionate youth deteriorate and concerns over a right-handers bend frightened many teams off. Zaidi says scouting executive Billy Gasparino and partner GM Josh Byrnes remained steadfast.

And picking during No. 24, a bar opted to representation large during Buehler’s upside, even if Tommy John medicine looked imminent. Less than dual months after drafting Buehler, a Dodgers announced he’d need a procedure.

“We felt this was a talent value watchful a year and a half for,” says Zaidi.

Just dual years after that surgery, Buehler was in a large leagues.

So what happened between medicine and creation it to Chavez Ravine?

“We spend a lot of time with a players as partial of a process, permitting them to self-assess and personification a diversion in a approach that emphasizes their possess strengths,” says Zaidi. “If you’re a pitcher, it’s unequivocally bargain that are your best pitches, that partial of a strike section we should work in.

“The tender mixture are always there – and afterwards it’s about creation certain they know what creates them good. That sounds unequivocally simple, though it’s infrequently a some-more nuanced process.

“In this day and age, with all a information out there, being means to use that and emanate a improved bargain of what works and what doesn’t is a pivotal partial of a growth process.”

And maybe what separates Buehler from his peers still toiling a stage or dual divided from a majors.

He struck out 163 batters in 146 2/3 innings this deteriorate and, with a indisputable and intrepid mentality, keeps removing a round in a Dodgers’ biggest games: The one-game playoff to kick a Colorado Rockies for a NL West title, Game 7 of a NLCS where they vanquished a Milwaukee Brewers, and now Friday’s Game 3 to save a season.

The second beat he’ll face will be Benintendi, who he says homered off him in college and still binds in high courtesy for his skills and vibe alike.

“He’s got an atmosphere to him, a certainty to him,” Buehler says of Benintendi. “There’s a lot of large personalities on a Red Sox, and he’s one of those guys who’s OK being second fiddle, given he’s a unequivocally good actor and unequivocally good dude, though he doesn’t have to be a superstar.”

He might not have a choice. Benintendi, 24, posted a .366 on-base percentage, interconnected 16 home runs with 21 steals, warranted Gold Glove finalist care and done a game-saving locate in Game 4 of a AL Championship Series.

Two some-more wins, and he’ll be a World Series champion, a happy outcome of actor and group anticipating a ideal match.

“Through a whole routine a Red Sox stood out to me as display a many interest. And appreciate God they did,” he says. “Honestly, it takes a lot of descending into a right place.

“I consider we played flattering good to be means to pierce adult quickly, though it takes a right organization, a right guys to pull we by a organization, and by a minors, flattering quickly. And we was advantageous to do that.”