By Scoop Fox
For so many years, the Boston Red Sox have dreamed of having a solid shortstop that can provide a pop in the bat and a glove in the infield. Ever since they traded away Nomar Garcciapara back in 2004, the Sox have yet to find someone who could fill the void.
Red Sox Nation had seen many shortstops come and go: Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Rentaria, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Marco Scutaro, Mike Aviles. Even Hanley Ramirez was a part of the Red Sox before they traded him away. Even this season, the Red Sox are busy alternating shortstop between Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias.
However Red Sox Nation's prayers may have been answered in the form of 2013 top prospect Xander Bogaerts. For those who are not familiar , Bogaerts first signed with Boston back in 2009 as an International Free Agent out of Aruba. He officially joined the the Red Sox in 2010 at the young age of 17 on their Dominican League team. Playing in 63 games, Boagerts went 75-for-239 (.314) with 3 HRs, 42 RBIs, an OBP of .396, sluggging percentage of .423, and OPS of .819.
In 2011, Bogaerts was sent to the Single-A Greenville Drive. During his time at Greenville, Xander played in 72 games. He went 69-for-265 (.260) with 16 HRs, 45 RBIs, an OBP of .324, a SLG of .509, and OPS of .834. His 16 HRs that year ranked 3rd overall on his team and his slugging was good for 4th.
Also that year, Bogaerts participated in the 2011 Baseball World Cup (no association with the World Baseball Classic) for the Netherlands National team. He helped them win the championship and a gold medal over the heavily favored Cuban national team.
Then in 2012, Boagerts stock boomed. He split time between Single-A Greenville and Double-A Portland Seadogs. In Greenville, Boagerts played in 104 games, going 116-for-384 (.302) with 15 HRs, 64 RBIs, an OBP of .378, SLG of .505, and an .883 OPS. He was named a Carolina League Regular Season All-Star as well as a Postseason All-Star.
Xander was then called up to Portland on August 9th and played in 23 games for the Seadogs, going 30-for-92 (.326) with 5 HRs, 17 RBIs, an OBP of .351, SLG of .598, and OPS of .948. Within the Red Sox farm system that year, his combined 20 HRs tied him for 2nd overall, his combined 81 RBIs placed him 3rd overeall and his combined batting average of .307 (146-for-476) pegged him 4th overall.
Because of his accolades, Xander was selected as the number one positional player prospect in all of Single-A Carolina League, including being the number two prospect player within the same league. He was also named the number one prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America.
Once Spring Training had concluded, Boagerts reported to Double-A Portland to start the season. In 56 games, he went 68-for-219 (.311) with 5 HR, 35 RBI, an OBP of .403, SLG of .489, and OPS of .892. Then as of June 13th, he was finally promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, becoming the second youngest positional player to appear for the Paw Sox (age 20 years, 8 months, and 13 days) since SS Glenn Hoffman (age 19 years, 1 month and 25 days) back in 1977. Because of the rain out on the 13th, the PawSox ended up playing a doubleheader on June 14th at McCoy. Xander made his debut at shortstop in both games and proceeded to show the Paw Sox faithful why he was ranked the number one prospect in the Boston farm system.
In Game 1, Bogaerts went 1-2 with a walk in the 2nd inning at his first-at-bat, a single in the bottom of the 7th, a stolen base, and the game-winning run scored. While Game 1 showed the speed of Xander, Game 2 showed his power. He was able to crush a 2-run homer off of Bison pitcher Justin Germano in the 4th inning that hit the 379-feet mark and finished off with a 2-for-5 performance with his HR and 2 RBIs. He also displayed his defensive fielding ability, gunning down 3 Bison players in Game 1 and 4 Bison players in Game 2 before they could reach first base.
After the game, Xander was all smiles and happy to be up in Pawtucket as he displayed the attitude and confidence of a veteran player.
So what does the future hold for the young Xander Bogaerts? Will he be the 2nd coming of Nomar? Will he succeed where so many others have failed? And even if he does make it to Boston, will he supplant the hot-hitting Jose Iglesias as the Red Sox everyday shortstop? Only time will be able to tell. But for now, the PawSox faithful will be treated by a player who displays not only physical prowess but a hard-working, carefree attitude that is more focused on helping the team than padding stats.
This is Scoop Fox, signing off.
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