Xander Bogaerts Is Potentially the Next Great Red Sox Shortstop

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Xander Bogaerts Is Potentially the Next Great Red Sox Shortstop
H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY
Bogaerts is a big part of the Sox's future.

Given the somewhat disappointing nature of the Boston Red Sox's winter dealings so far, I figured that it was time to start looking at the many positive signs for the future of the team.

Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts, as rated by Sox Prospects website, is the hot name that Sox fans have been hearing for over the past year with very good reason.

The native of Aruba has shot through the Sox system since signing at the age of 17.

With the recent move by Boston to sign Stephen Drew to keep the seat warm, according to this report from CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, it looks like the Sox are skeptical that Jose Iglesias will hit enough to earn the position.

They should be. Iglesias hit .118 in 68 at-bats last season at the major league level, giving the Sox pause for concern, something that I mentioned in this article about the Drew signing.

If Iglesias is the starting shortstop next season, it will be because he comes to spring training next season and takes the job from Drew.

To take the job, Iglesias will need to hit enough to keep his bat in the lineup; easier said than done given his minor league production.

Even if the 22-year-old Iglesias comes to camp and wins the job, he is likely to hold the job for one season until Bogaerts is ready.

Last season, as a 19-year-old in Double-A Portland, Bogaerts more than held his own, hitting .326 with the Sea Dogs and hitting .307/.373/.523 between two levels of the minors, giving him a combined OPS of .896.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
It didn't end well, but Garciaparra was a special player.
Bogaerts' advanced production at such a young age speaks to the hope that he can become the Sox's next great player and their best shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra.

Mentioning any young player with Garciaparra is high praise indeed and should have Red Sox nation excited.

It didn't end well for Garciaparra in Boston, but he was simply electric and can't-miss TV during his first four seasons in the major leagues. If Bogaerts can have that type of impact, the Sox would be ecstatic.

In 1995, at the age of 21 and in his first season in Double-A, Nomar Garciaparra produced a slash line of .267/.338/.384. Garciaparra was two years older at that time and produced a OPS that was .174 less than Bogaerts had as a 19-year-old.

Not one full-time major league shortstop last season had a OPS above .846, according to the stats from MLB.com. Only one part-time player had a season average above that: the St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma in limited action at the end of the season. 

The Sox need to be doing everything possible to keep Bogaerts at shortstop as long as possible, and his minor league fielding numbers are encouraging in comparison to Garciaparra.  

At age 21, Garciaparra had a .963 fielding percentage. At the same level, Bogaerts had a .958 fielding percentage.

Bogaerts may eventually grow out of shortstop, but it would give the Sox a distinct offensive advantage compared to most of the teams in the major leagues if Bogaerts could remain at short.

If you are looking for positives during this Red Sox offseason, Bogaerts is still with the Sox and still on track for 2014.

While watching the Sox next season, all eyes will be on Pawtucket to see how the kids are developing.

The future can't come soon enough.

 

Statistics used from Baseball Reference and SABR Minor League Committee.

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