Despite the recent demotion of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and the struggles of shortstop Xander Bogaerts, I’m here to let everyone know that both of these young and talented players will be fine.
I don’t think anybody is doubting the ability of JBJ defensively. He has flashed the glove on many occasions this season, shown off his terrific range in the outfield and nailed runners at the plate with his rocket arm. The only thing to question is his hitting ability, and rightfully so. With a .216 batting average that had dipped below .200 at times this season, he needed to go down to Triple-A Pawtucket to try and figure it out with a few weeks remaining in the minor league season.
I’ve been saying for months that Bradley Jr. should be sent down to Triple-A to work on his hitting and it was only a matter of time before it happened. In Triple-A he can deconstruct his swing a bit and change some things before he comes back up in September. It’s obviously going to take more than three weeks of minor league ball to fix, but the Red Sox wanted to take advantage of the situation in a season that they know is, for all intents and purposes, over.
I like the decision, but more than anything I like JBJ’s confidence despite the demotion. He believes he can play at the MLB level, and so do I. Will he ever be the leadoff hitter that Jacoby Ellsbury was? Probably not, but he has the upside to be much better than he is now. Some extra work at Pawtucket along with a long offseason to perfect some things will be important for Bradley Jr., and I know he will take full advantage of it.
For the case of Bogaerts, his biggest problem is that he lets the mistakes get in his head too much. He makes one error and the floodgates open with mistakes. He has been much more consistent than Bradley Jr., though, which is why he has remained in the majors all season. He also has a willingness to fix his flaws, which is very important, but he lacks the confidence at times to make those changes.
When I think about Bogaerts, I think back to how flawless he looked as a young prospect in the 2013 postseason. That confidence seemed to be there then, but in his first full season with the club he’s had his fair share of growing pains to say the least. Still, I believe that’s all they are, growing pains. The rest of the season for Bogaerts is about honing in on the ability he clearly has and building that confidence in himself. Like Bradley Jr., the pending offseason will be a crucial one for Bogaerts and his development as a MLB player.