The defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox look like they are this season’s edition of a rich team getting richer. Just poke around the Red Sox websites for a minute or so and you’ll stumble upon a slew of information about Aruban shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Why, you may ask? Because he looks like the real deal, that’s why.
At the age of 17, Bogaerts was signed by the Sox in 2009 as an international free agent. Since then, he’s built a minor league resumé chock-full of awards and honors, including but not limited to: 2010 Red Sox ML Latin Program Player of the Year, 2012 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, USA Today 2013 Minor League Player of the Year. Not to mention, he has been named to six different all-star teams throughout his minor league career.
The Scouting Report
Scouts have drooled over Xander Bogaerts’ build, they’ve bragged about his bat speed and excitedly dream about his potential. The majority overwhelmingly believes that Bogaerts will begin the season as Boston’s starting shortstop. Baseball America names him the top prospect in the Red Sox organization and the fourth best prospect in baseball overall at last season’s halfway point.
The ceiling is high for Bogaerts. The only issues that scouts foresee with him are his patience at the plate (which can be taught) and his long-term range as a shortstop. The prominent theory is that he’ll eventually be groomed to take over at third base. This could be expedited if the Red Sox find another shortstop of the future within the next few years, trade for a current shortstop, or just open up the checkbook and sign one from the open market. It should be noted that Hanley Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera hit the market at the end of this season, and Ian Desmond becomes available at the end of next season. While I wouldn’t hold my breath on those options, I wouldn’t completely close the doors on them, either.
Like many, I believe Xander Bogaerts has a very good chance at winning the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year. With a solid veteran presence on the Red Sox roster and most of the remaining championship pieces in the locker room, Bogaerts gets to learn at the feet of many masters. Based on that, a .305 average with 15 home runs, 70 RBI and a .900 OPS will get his name on a lot of Rookie of the Year ballots.