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Xander Bogaerts: Boston Red Sox Player of Tomorrow

December 30th, 2013 at 9:49 AM
By Ron Juckett

'Xander Bogaerts' photo (c) 2013, WEBN-TV - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Xander Bogaerts is ready for 2014.

Taking a new uniform number for 2014—the Boston Red Sox are selling jersey’s online with his new number, 2—Bogaerts hopes to build on what has already been an exciting career.

Bogaerts first grabbed the public’s attention last spring as the starting shortstop for the Cinderella-inspired Netherlands team that finished fourth in 2013’s World Baseball Classic. Then, he earned a starting position at the start of the World Series, replacing Will Middlebrooks at third.

Think about that, Bogaerts cracked the starting lineup during the freaking World Series! Not bad for a kid that started his professional season in Portland with the Double-A Sea Dogs of the Eastern League.

After a couple of months with Triple-A Pawtucket, Bogaerts made his major league debut on August 20 against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park, the same field he played on in March when the Dutch fell to the Dominican Republic in the WBC Semi-finals.

Splitting time at short and third, Bogaerts did not set the world on fire during his first lap around the American League—aside from hitting is first career home run at Yankee Stadium on September 7—batting .250 in 44 at bats.

His coming out party came during the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers when Bogaerts doubled in the last three games of the series scoring a crucial run in each game.

Showing signs of nerves during the first two games of the World Series at Fenway, Bogaerts went five-of-11 in the three games at Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals, including his first big-league triple in Game 3.

Expect Bogaerts to hit a lot of those, especially if he can find the Triangle at Fenway. He will not steal bases at will like the last player to wear No. 2 Jacoby Ellsbury, but he hit six three-baggers with Portland in 56 games.

Bogaerts has some pop in his bat as well. In parts of the four years Bogaerts grew on the farm, he slugged 54 home runs in 378 games, hitting .296.

If he gets on base, he is a threat to score, scoring over 70 runs in both of his full minor league seasons. He also hit 37 doubles, splitting his time with Single-A Salem and Portland in 2012. Bogaerts has all the makings of being a very effective five-tool player no matter where he starts.

If you are wondering about how much he strikes out, he cut that number to 95 from 106 last year in the minors, but his walk rate jumped from 44 to 63. When he gets comfortable with major league pitching, his plate discipline will not be a liability for Boston. Bogaerts also has done a good job staying out of double plays in the minors, hitting into 12 in 515 plate appearances in 2013.

It is not important if he plays at short or third in 2014, it only matters that he plays. Bogaerts is the most polished prospect to play for Boston since Ellsbury’s cameo in the 2007 World Series. The Sox are so impressed that they gave him Ellsbury’s number!

Folks, this is the reason why the Red Sox changed their emphasis from free agents to prospects.

He is ready and so should you. The summer of 2014 will be fun to watch.

*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, MLB, Netherlands, Pawtucket, Portland, World Baseball Classic, World Series, Xander Bogaerts

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