One of the top prospects in baseball is getting his first shot at the big leagues, as Baseball America's Red Sox correspondent and WEEI.com's Alex Speier reported this morning that Xander Bogaerts is joining the Red Sox to try to shake up a slumping offense..
With No. 2 prospect Oscar Taveras on the disabled list with a season-ending ankle injury and No. 1 prospect Byron Buxton still in high Class A, Bogaerts, ranked No. 4 in Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 Prospects list, is likely the highest profile prospect to get a big league call the rest of the season. The Twins could promote No. 3 prospect Miguel Sano in September, but since he's not on the 40-man roster and the Twins are 18 games out of first, there's no real reason to start his service time clock early. No. 5 prospect Francisco Lindor is unlikely to get a big league callup for similar reasons unless there is an injury to Asdrubal Cabrera.
So if you are in a fantasy league looking to land a long-term keeper position player, Bogaerts is the best remaining option in 2013. Over the short-term Bogaerts also has a chance to make an immediate impact, especially in a league where the average shortstop hits .254/.306/.371.
It's been a rapid rise through the minors for Bogaerts, especially this year. He began the season as the youngest active player in the Eastern League. After hitting .306/.403/.489 at Double-A Portland, Bogaerts was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he became the youngest player in the International League. Now Bogaerts will become the second youngest player in the American League behind Profar.
Bogaerts brings more than youth to the Red Sox. His line drive stroke gives him the ability to hit for average and power. While he has a pull-heavy approach, he also shows the ability to go with the pitch, with the power to drive the ball out of the park to the opposite field. Long-term he projects to have an above-average hit tool with well above-average power. He's an average runner at best and is not particularly aggressive as a basestealer. He has a plus arm that fits well at either shortstop or third base.
It's hard not to remember another young tall and rangy Red Sox shortstop prospect as Bogaerts evokes comparisons to Hanley Ramirez. Bogaerts has moved more quickly through the farm system and he has been more consistent as a minor leaguer, although Ramirez was significantly faster at the same age.
Defensively, Bogaerts has shown steady improvement at shortstop to the point where scouts see him as a viable option at the position, at least in the short term, although he may eventually grow out of the position. Right now Bogaerts seems to fit better at shortstop than third base, as Will Middlebrooks has hit .462/.548/.692 since he returned to Boston. At the least, the righthanded hitting Bogaerts should split time with the lefthanded hitting Stephen Drew, who is hitting.195/.248/.345 against lefthanders this year.