Q and A with 2013 Arkansas Commit Andrew Benintendi (Maderia)

Andrew Benintendi, the #2 ranked prospect in Ohio's Class of 2013, has committed to Arkansas. The star outfielder from Maderia becomes the first prospect from the Class of 2013 to make a college commitment. Read more ...

PBR:  Why did you choose Arkansas?
Benintendi: I loved everything about Arkansas. Solid academics, great program, great coaches and awesome facilities. They average 8,000 fans per game so they love their baseball. They also play in the SEC, the best baseball conference in the country. I really felt comfortable down there when I made an unofficial visit.

PBR:  What other schools were you considering?
Benintendi: I seriously considered Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Kentucky.

PBR: Where did Arkansas first see you? How did your relationship develop with their coaching staff?
Benintendi: Coach Butler came out to New Mexico to watch me play in the Connie Mack World Series for the Midland Redskins. They contacted me via email on 9/1/11 and expressed their interest in me as a centerfielder. My parents and I decided to make a trip to Fayetteville and check things out. I spent some quality time with Coach Butler and Coach Van Horn. I was impressed with both of them.

PBR: What role do the coaches expect you to  play your first year on campus?
Benintendi: Their hope (and mine) is that I will step right in and play centerfield and leadoff. To them, I am an ideal leadoff hitter: swing from the left side, fast and a contact hitter that rarely strikes out. For this to happen, I must continue to develop all aspects of my game.

PBR: What is your biggest strength as a player and  how do you feel that you will help Arkansas?
Benintendi: Many players have a strong arm and can run fast. I have always thought that the great players separate themselves because they can consistently hit. I was blessed with good hand-eye coordination and have been able to hit at all levels. While it will be a big challenge, I hope I can continue hitting at a consistent level when I enter the SEC. The pitching in the SEC is second to none. I will have my work cut out for me.

PBR: How important was it for you to play in the south? Did you consider staying in the Midwest?
Benintendi:  It was not that important. I am used to playing in cold weather in March/April. I could have easily stayed in the Midwest. I however wanted to play for a strong program in the SEC. I felt Arkansas was a better fit for me rather than Vandy or Kentucky. Coach Beals made a strong case for Ohio State. I liked him very much.

PBR: Last summer while playing for Midland,  you were teammates with right-handed Dillon Howard (2011 Arkansas commit and  eventual 2nd round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians).  Did he give you  any advice or direct you towards the Razorbacks?
Benintendi: Not really. Dillon is an Arkansas kid so he told me on a couple occasions to consider Arkansas. Another teammate, John Clay Reeves, really urged me to look at Arkansas. John Clay is a freshman and will likely catch this spring.  

PBR: Arkansas has some of the top facilities in the nation.  Describe your thoughts when first walking out on to their field.
Benintendi: It reminded me of Huntington Park. It is a big college stadium and I envisioned myself playing centerfield in front of a packed house.

PBR: The 2013 Major League Draft is a couple years off. But, if you happen to be in a situation that allows you to decide between college and professional baseball, what will you do? Will you consider the professional route? What factors will be important for you?
Benintendi:  Well, I feel a little embarrassed in answering this question. I feel lucky to be a Division I recruit. I share the same dream as most boys that play baseball. In order to be drafted out of high school, I have such a long way to go. There are so many quality players around the country. I will continue to work at my game and we will see where I am in June 2013. For me to forego college, I would have to be offered alot of money.  If not, I plan to have a great time at Arkansas. Pig Sooie!!