Boston Red Sox: Shortstop Mike Aviles Keeping Hot Jose Iglesias in Pawtucket

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIMay 20, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 18: Mike Aviles #3 of the Boston Red Sox crosses home plate after hitting a home run in the third inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 18, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)
Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

Going into this season, one of Boston's most intriguing position battles involved the shortstop spot, with veteran Mike Aviles battling prospect Jose Iglesias for the starter role. 

Aviles ended up winning the job, and Iglesias was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket to further work on his hitting. He hadn't been a strong hitter in the past, nor was his defense stellar, but Aviles' play during spring training was enough to convince manager Bobby Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington that he could handle the job.

As it's turned out, Aviles has played much better than expected. Since Jacoby Ellsbury went down with a shoulder injury mid-April, Aviles has taken over the leadoff spot for most of his absence. Sunday marks Aviles' 27th start atop the Boston lineup, and he has really shown what he's capable of.

He's hit leadoff home runs in back-to-back days off Philadelphia Phillies pitchers Joe Blanton and Cliff Lee. He also homered in the series-opener against Cole Hamels and now has a total of eight long balls on the season.

Besides his .277/.305/.500 offensive line, Aviles has been above average on defense as well. He's only committed three errors this year and has the third-best UZR among shortstops.

Now down on the farm, Igelsias didn't start the season like he needed to, only hitting .200 through April. Things have completely changed in May, though, as he's now currently hitting .282/.333/.336 with 23 runs and five extra-base hits in 32 games. Over his last 10 games, Iglesias has hit .370 with 17 hits in 46 at-bats, scoring nine times for Pawtucket. 

Iglesias was called up to Boston earlier this month as Kevin Youkilis was placed on the DL with a lower-back injury. He didn't appear in a game and was later sent down to make way for star prospect Will Middlebrooks.

The 22-year-old Iglesias did make 10 appearances with the Red Sox last season, but he didn't see much time at the plate. 

There's no doubt that Iglesias is the future shortstop of the Red Sox organization, but at the moment, Aviles is playing lights out. Despite the recent success of Iglesias at the plate down in Triple-A, Aviles has been that much better and deserves the starting role.