The wait is over, Boston Red Sox fans: uber-prospect Xander Bogaerts is here. The 20-year-old’s impressive performance in the minors could be ignored no longer.
Keith Law‘s no. 3 prospect in his 2013 mid-season update, Bogaerts hit 16 HRs, drove in 67, and slashed .297/.388/.477 in 116 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket before getting the call on Monday. Bogaerts presence could be crucial in a tight AL East playoff race. Labeled one of the best Red Sox prospects since Hanley Ramirez, Sox fans are most likely expecting a Manny Machado-like impact.
But let’s pump the brakes a little bit.
Don’t get me wrong, Bogaerts is going to be a good player. Power from a shortstop is coveted in MLB, and he’s got plenty of that with his 30 HR upside. He takes walks, another valuable skill in baseball’s current “Moneyball” mindset, evidenced by that .388 OBP he posted despite being one of the youngest players both leagues he played in this year.
Defensively, he’s not going to be mistaken for Omar Vizquel, but he’s not Jed Lowrie over there, either. If by any chance he outgrows shortstop, I’m sure I’ll he’ll be fine there too, although I’m sure the Red Sox want to maximize his value as a shortstop. No one’s questioning whether this kid is going to be good. The tools are there. I have no doubt he has plenty of All-Star game appearances in his future. But he’s not the savior to the Red Sox season, and no one should expect him to be.
Not that the 2013 Red Sox need a lot of saving. At 73-53 and atop the AL East in mid-August, this season can’t be deemed anything but a success after last year’s Bobby Valentine-led debacle.
That’s not to say Bogaerts won’t help, but there’s a chance he might only get 2-3 starts a week. Bogaerts was prepped to play third base over the last month at Pawtucket in case Will Middlebrooks floundered after his own promotion, but Middlebrooks seems to have turned it around after spending the early part of 2013 wishing he could reach the Mendoza Line. I even heard that he may have taken a walk or two since he’s been back.
There’s not really room in the starting lineup at shortstop for the Red Sox either. Stephen Drew has been more than serviceable in 2013 and has been stellar since returning from the disabled list in late July, batting .304 with with four home runs and four doubles in 22 games.
I imagine the Red Sox will create a platoon situation with Bogaerts starting at shortstop against lefties and Drew against right-handers, as well as Bogaerts spelling Middlebrooks every few days or so at third base. You don’t call up your 20-year-old top prospect if you aren’t going to play him, but that’s not to say you’ll see him in the starting lineup everyday either.
The future is bright for the Red Sox and for Bogaerts, but for those expecting the second coming of Yasiel Puig, take a deep breath and relax, because chances are that’s not going to happen.