Taking a closer look at the three prospects acquired by Royals in the Andrew Benintendi trade.
The first significant move of this year’s trade deadline was made last night, as the New York Yankees acquired outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitching prospects Beck Way, T.J. Sikkema and Chandler Champlain.
Benintendi, a first-time All-Star this year, is having a breakout campaign, already being worth 2.4 bWAR thanks to 111 hits in 93 games, a .320 batting average and an OPS+ of 123. The Yankees are shoring up their outfield and now have one of the stronger threesomes in the game patrolling the grass in Benintendi, Aaron Judge and a mixture of Aaron Hicks/Joey Gallo/Matt Carpenter.
In the pitching prospects heading to Kansas City, the Royals are getting some promising young arms, especially Sikkema and the headliner of the deal, Way. Sikkema made it up to the No. 19 prospect in the Yankees system per MLB.com and Way up to No. 21.
Royals: Taking a closer look at Andrew Benintendi trade
In Beck Way, the Royals are acquiring a high-end prospect from New York that has the potential to be a solid starting pitcher in the big leagues. Way is closing in on 23-years of age and has topped out in High-A ball for the Yankees this year. A move up to Double-A or even Triple-A in short order seems to be a real possibility for him.
The young righty had made 15 starts this season for the Hudson Valley Renegades, posting a 5-5 record with a 3.73 ERA and 80 strikeouts in just over 72 innings pitched. He is a very high-strikeout pitcher who has brought his walks way down. The walks represented a point of concern amongst scouts recently but he has brought the free passes down and now has what scouts are describing as “mid-rotation potential”.
T.J. Sikkema, the lone southpaw in the deal, is a 24-year-old starter who has looked every bit as strong as Way this year, if not a little bit better on the mound. Sikkema joined Way on the Renegades and made 11 appearances of his own, going 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA, striking out 54 batters in 36 innings while walking just nine and allowing only three home runs.
If there’s a drawback in Sikkema’s game it’s the fact that he’s had issues with injuries over the years. The 2022 campaign was his first action of any sort in professional ball after a highly-promising start to his career in 2019, missing time due to the COVID-cancellation the 2020 season, a strained rotator cuff and then forearm tightness.
Chandler Champlain, a 22-year-old righty, is the biggest wild card heading from the Yankees to the Royals but he, like Sikkema and Way, possesses some very intriguing tools and could end up being one of the more productive players in the deal.
Champlain spent the Yankees portion of this year on the A-ball Tampa Tarpons, starting 15 games (with one relief appearance), going 2-5 with a 4.30 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 73 innings. Walks and home runs are up this year, but the high amount of K’s is encouraging for him. He relies heavily on his four-seam fastball that can reach up to 98mph (but comfortably sits around 94), a huge, sweeping slider that sits around 84mph and a sharp 12-6 curve that sits under 80mph.
Champlain’s pitch mix and strong strikeout numbers almost look better suited for a relief role down the line but that is by no means a bad thing for him. His fastball would likely gain a few ticks in a relief role and would pair nicely with two wipeout breaking pitches.
While it has not been formally announced yet, the Royals seem likely to send the trio to the same level of minor league ball that they were at with the Yankees. Meaning Way and Sikkema will likely report to High-A Quad Cities and Champlain to Low-A Columbia.