The Boston Red Sox have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young infielders who can play on the left side. With third baseman Garin Cecchini, the second coming of Kevin Youkilis, still about a year away, Xander Bogaerts will make the jump to full-time status in 2014.
With Stephen Drew still a free agent, it looks more and more like the future is now for the Red Sox and their 21-year-old Aruban shortstop. Signing in August of 2009 for a signing bonus just north of half a million dollars, Bogaerts lit up the Dominican Summer League in his professional debut, leading to a 2011 assignment to Class-A Greenville in June of that year after extended spring training.
Highly touted for his complete, all-around game that includes contact ability, defense, power and some speed, Bogaerts destroyed the competition in his first full season of baseball, at the High-A and Double-A levels in 2012 as a 19 year old. Coming into 2013 as one of the highest ranked prospects in baseball, Bogaerts saw a drop in power but still showed an outstanding approach at the plate, walking over 10% of the time and striking out under 20% (the first time he had been able to do both for an entire season).
Of course, we all know Bogaerts from his time in Boston where, during the regular season, he showed that he was able to compete, posting a .250/.320/.364 line in fifty big league plate apearances but it was what he did in the playoffs that showed that he can be a truly special player.
Getting 34 post-season plate appearances in 12 games, Bogaerts put a 142 wRC+ with a .296/.412/.481 line that included three doubles and a triple. He did all of that on baseball’s biggest stage in one of its toughest markets, contributing to the Red Sox winning another World Series.
After getting an RBI hit off of the Cardinals’ ace closer Trevor Rosenthal, Bogaerts was humble, saying “even to touch the ball against that guy is pretty good.”
With Stephen Drew remaining unsigned, the projection right now is to plug Bogaerts in at shortstop to give him the chance to be the superstar that he can be. If Drew does re-sign with the Red Sox, Bogaerts could still move to third base and displace Will Middlebrooks. Bogaerts has far more upside than Middlebrooks, provides better defense and, even as a 21 year old rookie, will be a force in the Red Sox infield in 2014.