Xander Bogaerts is arguably the Boston Red Sox’s top prospect, but he no longer should be playing shortstop.
Bogaerts was promoted to Double-A Portland on Thursday after posting great numbers with Single-A Salem earlier in the year, according to Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. In 104 games and just under 400 at-bats with Salem, he hit .302/.378/.505 with 15 home runs, 45 extra-base hits, 59 runs and 64 RBI. Those numbers speak for themselves.
“At this point, about a month left in the season, we felt it was the right time to push him up, coming off a streak of a really good performance over the last week or 10 days,” said Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett. “He’s certainly shown that he outperformed the level. Based on the way he’s carrying himself and his mental readiness for that step, we felt like now was the time.
Bogaerts didn’t waste any time getting acquainted with the Double-A competition as he launched a home run in the sixth inning of a 5-3 Portland victory on Thursday.
As we can see with his offensive statistics, his hitting isn’t the issue. It’s where he’s going to eventually play.
The Boston Red Sox are currently using Mike Aviles as their primary shortstop and Pedro Ciriaco there on occasion. In Triple-A Pawtucket, Boston has Jose Iglesias who is a tremendous fielder and a poor hitter. Based off of speculation, Iglesias looks to be the future shortstop as long as he doesn’t make a fool of himself at the plate—Iglesias hit .235 in the minors last year and is hitting .256 this year.
With Bogaerts progressing so quickly—he’s just 19 years old—it’s time for Boston GM Ben Cherington and his staff to decide on what to do with him. Where is he going to play?
Bogaerts is much better than Iglesias offensively and probably slightly worse defensively. Overall, Bogaerts is the better shortstop. The issue is that Iglesias is probably going to get the call next season and cement himself at shortstop for the near future. While he’s playing Boston, Bogaerts will most likely start next season with Portland.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense for Bogaerts to continue playing shortstop if he’s not going to be playing there in the majors. Now maybe Boston strays away from the Iglesias plan and makes due with other players until Bogaerts is ready, but that’s a stretch.
Instead, Boston should convert Bogaerts into a corner outfielder, and they should do it now.
As noted in Bogaerts’ scouting report on SoxProspects.com, he’s likely to transition into either a third baseman or a left fielder in the future.
Bogaerts clearly won’t be playing third base since the Red Sox have Will Middlebrooks there and Carl Crawford will be in left field for the next five years, but what about right field?
The Red Sox don’t have a right fielder for the future. Boston has Cody Ross this year and could possibly re-sign him for the next season or two which would be enough time for Bogaerts to come up. A call-up in 2014 isn’t out of the question for Bogaerts.
There is the thought of moving him to center field since Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract is set to expire after next season, but Bogaerts doesn’t have the best speed and Jackie Bradley is much more fit for that spot—who’s also in Double-A Portland.
Right field is the one spot where Bogaerts fits in, and there’s no better time than now to start converting him.