MLB.com named Boston Red Sox phenom Xander Bogaerts the top shortstop prospect in baseball Monday. Bogaerts, expected to be an everyday infielder with Boston this season, climbed to the top of this list of 10 when Texas Rangers hot prospect Jurickson Profar received a permanent call-up in 2013.
Bogaerts, who turned 21 last October 1st, continues to draw the accolades of those who scout young baseball talent for a living as he was named by Baseball Prospectus as the top prospect in the Boston Red Sox system last week. Both MLB.com and Prospectus will reveal their top 100 prospect lists in the coming days and Bogaerts promises to be very high on them.
The Aruba native made his Major League debut as a 20-year-old in August 2013, becoming the youngest Red Sox position player in 41 years. Bogaerts has all the makings of a future star. He has the ability to hit for both average and power. He is a smooth fielder and can play both shortstop and third base. Bogaerts played himself into an everyday role as a third baseman during the 2013 playoffs, hitting .296 in 12 games as the Red Sox won the World Series.
Based on the 20-80 scale universally used to grade a player’s worth—20 being very poor and 80 putting a player into Babe Ruth territory—Bogaerts receives solid marks across the board.
Scouts say his biggest strength is with his power, grading his potential at 70. Bogaerts popped 16 home runs between Double-A Portland, Triple-A Pawtucket and the big club in 2013. A 70 grade gives him a serious chance of hitting 30 homers a season on an annual basis.
Bogaerts hitting ability and throwing arm were the next highest grades. Considered above average with a 60 score, Bogaerts has impressed with his bat at all levels, hitting .297 in the minors last year, and played his way into the starting lineup for the World Series at third base after a strong showing off the bench in Boston’s successful American League Championship Series win over the Detroit Tigers.
Whether it is at short or third, Bogaerts will not make many throwing errors, according to scouts, as his ability to hurl the ball over to first is considered very good. If that arm is as good as advertised, faster runners will need that quick first step out of the box to beat out a bang-bang play at first base.
Bogaerts’ fielding ability rates out to 55 and—regardless of what happens in the short term with Stephen Drew—may spend more of his career playing third base rather than at shortstop where great defense is more important.
Speed wise, Bogaerts is considered average at 50. Bogaerts is not going to be the second-coming of Jacoby Ellsbury—swiping only seven bases in 2013—but Bogaerts is a smart base runner that will not get thrown out often taking an extra base or stretching to score a run.
Overall, Bogaerts potential rates at 65, considered an above average major league player.
With all the pressure on him, however, out of the gate to perform at these lofty levels, Bogaerts and the fans must show some patience for his inevitable growing pains. As these lists come out and as his name climbs higher and higher on them, everyone needs to keep in mind to remember what happens day in and day out, not peg him as a failure after a prolonged slump in July.
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