We’re coming up on the First-Year Draft in a few weeks, meaning that the month of June will see a great change amongst minor league teams with a new influx of talent. Players will be moved up and down, play in their various All-Star Games and get promoted and/or demoted, with certain players being leaned upon to deliver more in the second half of the season than the first. For the Red Sox, one player that will be someone to keep an eye on is this week’s Low-Level Highlight.
19-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts is one of a twin set of Red Sox minor leaguers, with his brother Jair playing mostly in the rookie leagues at first base. But Xander posseses most of the talent between the twins. Many people see him on a simliar level as Cleveland’s top prospect Francisco Lindor, who is currently tearing up the Midwest League and was covered in this feature a couple weeks ago. But Bogaerts, who is of similar age and talent level, is currently doing well at a level ABOVE Lindor, as he currently sits at .277/.352/.426 with three home runs for Salem of the Carolina League.
Now, the one thing that Lindor has over Bogaerts is his ability to stick at the position. Bogaerts is a good athlete but is listed at 6’3″ and 175 lbs. Since he still has room to grow, there’s a good chance a move to third base or the outfield is in order, with his athleticsm and arm profiling well. Will Middlebrooks is currently holding down the hot corner for Boston and looks to stay there, meaning that with Jose Iglesias pegged to be a glove-first shortstop, Bogaerts could profile well in right field when it’s all said and done.
He ceiling is that of a hitter with easy power to tap into, giving himself 30-homer talent at the big league level. He’s probably a .260-.280 hitter at the Major League level, but he’s not a suckhole at the plate when it comes to swinging and missing, and he has a good eye and strikes out only twice as much as he walks. He hit 16 homers as an 18-year-old last year in only 72 games, meaning that he has a good chance to see that power manifest over an entire season as he moves up the ranks.
The Red Sox have said that he will stay at shortstop for the time being, but at some point soon, he will have to take on a position change. Once that happens, his path to the Major Leagues could truly be that of the proverbial shooting star. The Red Sox have lacked potential game changing talent in the last few years, and their core is aging relatively quickly. Someone like Boegarts could be a very good piece to build around, where he could be a Major League fixture as soon as 2014.