Name: Xander Bogaerts
Organization: Red Sox
Notable 2011 Stats: .260/.324/.509 with 14 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 71/25 K/BB, and 1-for-4 SB in 72 games with Greenville (A)
Why He’s This High: It is not often that you see an 18-year-old post a .249 ISO in full-season ball. Just to put that accomplishment in perspective for Bogaerts, he’s just two months older than Bryce Harper, and his ISO in Low-A was 13 points higher…and he’s a shortstop.
That’s pretty much the story with Bogaerts–he’s showed extraordinary in-game power at a remarkably young age, and he’s enough of an athlete that he could have some significant defensive value as well. He’s pretty much what Miguel Sano (who I ranked 33rd) would be if he translated well to Low-A next year and improved his approach. Since Sano is often considered one of the game’s elite position player prospects (I often see him ranked in the 15-30 range), then Bogaerts has to be thought of even more highly, since he’s more proven and hasn’t had to move off of shortstop yet.
Why He’s This Low: Of course, he probably will have to move off of shortstop, although there are rumblings that he may be able to stay there. Still, his 1-for-4 mark on the bases tells you all you need to know about what kind of athlete Bogaerts is. At 6’3″ and still growing into his body, he looks the part of a third baseman, but some believe he may be destined for the outfield or even first base. He made 26 errors in just 71 games in 2011 and needs to cut down on his mistakes if he’s going to counteract his limited athleticism at short.
Bogaerts still has work to do on his approach. He did manage to strike out less than once per game, and he posted a respectable .064 Isolated Discipline, but if he’s going to be a true impact bat, he’s got to pull his K/BB at least close to 2/1.
Conclusions: Bogaerts has monster upside–it would almost be disappointing if he turned into Nelson Cruz, a power-only corner outfielder. Cruz’s 2011 line is almost exactly the same as Bogaerts’, so if Bogaerts can simply translate his Low-A stats to the majors someday, that’s what he becomes even if he moves down the defensive spectrum. And lest you think that’s a ridiculously tall task, let’s not forget how many years the recently-turned-19 Bogaerts has to refine his game. If he can improve his approach and/or stay on the left side of the infield, he could become one of the game’s elite power hitters.
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