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August 19, 2013

The Call-Up

Xander Bogaerts

by Chris Mellen and Paul Sporer


The Situation: With the Red Sox 3-7 in their last 10 games and playing only .500 baseball since the All-Star break, the club has decided to call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts, who ranked no. 3 on our Mid-Season Top 50. Bogaerts is likely to spell Stephen Drew during the stretch run, especially against left-handed pitching, and can also spend some time at third base when Will Middlebrooks needs time off. Look for the infield prospect to play both positions as needed during the Red Sox’ push to the postseason.

Background: Bogaerts was signed as an international free agent out of Aruba in 2009. Since coming stateside, the infield prospect’s stock has skyrocketed in parallel with his rapid ascension up the rungs of Boston’s system. Bogaerts was a standout at the Fall Instructional League in 2010, with his talent and potential clearly on display. As an 18-year-old in the South Atlantic League during his 2011 campaign, the right-handed hitter slammed 16 home runs in 72 games and began to turn heads with the way the ball jumped off his bat. The following season saw the now 20-year-old breeze through the Carolina League, showing both power and the ability to hit for average while beginning to prove that the bat was more than ready for the upper minors in a 23-game taste of Double-A. This season, the infielder has continued to take the upper minors by storm, posting a .299/.389/.481 between Portland and Pawtucket at the time of his promotion.

Scouting Report: Bogaerts generates very easy bat speed, enhanced by his ability to keep his hands back during his stride and unfold from a balanced base. There’s some length in the swing, but the righty has the loose hands to stay inside of the baseball and barrel pitches up in multiple spots, and he routinely drives the ball with backspin to all fields. I see Bogaerts’ game power with a strong chance to approach an output of 30 home runs annually, possibly higher in a peak season. There’s plenty of leverage in the swing and explosiveness through the hitting zone.

The biggest development for the infielder has been the polishing of his hit tool. The hit tool’s development was once a question for me, but Bogaerts has consistently shown that he can adjust to the path of the ball against rising competition. Most importantly, he’s made the necessary overall hitting adjustments, both in batting practice sessions and mid-stream during games.

Two areas of Bogaerts’ game that still need work are his defense and strike zone judgment. As a shortstop, he’s made strides in improving his footwork and technique, and the reads off the bat have gotten better as well. The foot speed is only average, however, and further loss of speed into his mid-20s is going to decrease his average-to-slightly-better-than-average range. Given his athleticism, reactions, and instincts, a permanent move over to third base should agree well with Bogaerts, and he has potential to round into a plus defender at the hot corner.

Although he will take a walk, the young hitter’s greatest present weakness is his strike zone judgment. Bogaerts has definitely fine-tuned his selectiveness over the last year, but he still can expand the zone, especially against breaking balls moving across his line of sight and fastballs up and away. The unforgiving arms of The Show will test the boundaries to see whether Bogaerts will get himself out or make them deliver quality pitches during the first phase of his career. —Chris Mellen

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Related Content:  Scouting,  Red Sox,  Minor Leagues,  Call-up,  Xander Bogaerts

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Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pac... (08/19)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Travis d'... (08/19)
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