Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts Will Reportedly Play in World Baseball Classic

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2013

Source: (Kelly O'Connor)
Source: (Kelly O'Connor)H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY

If there were ever a time to pay attention to a Dutch baseball team, it’s now.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts will likely play for Team Netherlands at the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Here’s what Edes had to say:

The Red Sox are not expected to have significant involvement in this year’s World Baseball Classic, a 16-team tournament that begins in March in four venues.

But it’s possible that the WBC could turn into a coming-out party for one Red Sox player: shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the team’s top prospect, who according to a source is likely to represent Team Netherlands. Bogaerts, 20, is from Dutch-speaking Aruba, an island that is part of the Netherlands Antilles, and thus is eligible to play for Team Netherlands.

Bogaerts has moved swiftly through the Boston minor league system, having plenty of success no matter which level he plays at. Starting last season in Single-A Salem, Bogaerts played in 104 games while batting .303/.379/.507 with 15 home runs, 59 runs and 64 RBI.

The Red Sox promoted him to Double-A Portland later in the year where he continued his hot stroke. Bogaerts, playing in 23 games, hit .326/.351/.598 with five home runs, 12 runs and 17 RBI.

Needless to say, Bogaerts is on the right track to becoming a star in the big leagues sometime in the near future.

During Boston’s rookie development program, minor league director Ben Crockett spoke highly of Bogaerts, according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe:

For him it’s reps. I think that’s a big part of it, reps at the upper levels. He had [23] games in Double-A last year [and] handled it very well. Just getting more repetitions. Physically he has continued to improve and is in really good shape right now. It’ll be an interesting and challenging season for him not matter what the stats say at the end of the year.

Bogaerts is easily the top shortstop in the Red Sox organization, but there is a bit of controversy at the position.

Jose Iglesias is another Red Sox shortstop prospect who is on the brink of playing in the major leagues. When Boston dealt Mike Aviles to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the offseason to acquire manager John Farrell, it seemed as if the starting job would fall to Iglesias. But that didn’t happen.

The Red Sox went out and signed free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year deal. Iglesias will now likely start the season in Triple-A Pawtucket, continuing to wait until Boston gives him his first real shot at being the everyday guy.

But should Iglesias improve his offensive abilities—which is the main thing holding him back—Bogaerts will be directly affected.

The theory surrounding the position is that Bogaerts could be transitioned into being a corner outfielder instead of a shortstop. Boston needs his bat in the lineup more than his defense in the field. Bogaerts is a big kid at 6’3’’ and 175 lbs. and if he continues to grow then he’ll be setup perfectly to play left or right field.

Pairing him with Jacoby Ellsbury—who the Red Sox could re-sign after the 2013 season—and Jackie Bradley Jr. would give Boston one of the top young outfields in baseball.

But for the time being, Bogaerts is a shortstop and that’s likely the position he’ll play for Team Netherlands.

Team Netherlands is in Pool B of the World Baseball Classic along with Korea, Australia and Chinese Taipei. Bogaerts wouldn’t face any true major league talent until the second round—where Japan and Cuba will likely be—or the championship round—where the United State, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic all could be. 

Official rosters are expected to be announced on Thursday.