Bogaerts Excels At Young Age For Red Sox





BEST PLAYER: Shortstop Xander Bogaerts' season was plenty impressive just based on his raw numbers. He hit .302/.378/.505 with 15 homers in 104 games for high Class A Salem, then continued to mash at Double-A Portland, hitting .326/.351/.598/.948 with five homers in 23 games.

But Bogaerts' performance was incredible in the context of his age and position. At 19, he was the second-youngest position player in the Carolina League and then the youngest in the Eastern League, three years younger than Portland teammate Jackie Bradley, who had a stellar year in his own right.

And to date, despite a powerful 6-foot-3 frame, he's given the Red Sox no reason to move him off shortstop.

"Look at Derek Jeter, look at (Troy Tulowitzki)," Bogaerts said. "Those guys are pretty big for shortstop and they're all at shortstop right now. Jeter (has) played his whole career at shortstop, so why can't I?"

BEST PITCHER: Righthander Matt Barnes' first 13 professional starts—five for low Class A Greenville, then eight more in Salem—stood out. In that time the 22-year-old went 7-1 while leading qualified minor league starters in ERA (0.99), WHIP (0.78) and strikeout rate (11.8 per nine innings). He struggled thereafter, going 0-4, 6.28 in his last 12 starts, but the notion that he hit a wall en route to 120 innings wasn't unexpected.

Barnes displayed a mid-90s fastball that bumps 98 mph when he needs swings and misses and the potential for an above-average curveball. He also showed aptitude in adding a changeup to the mix.

KEEP AN EYE ON: In his age-19 season, lefthander Henry Owens showed as much potential as any pitcher in the Red Sox system. In his first exposure to pro ball, the 2011 supplemental first-rounder went 12-5, 4.87 and struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings while spending all year with Greenville. He got swings and misses in volume with a low-90s fastball, changeup and curveball.

SOX YARNS

• Outfielder Keury De La Cruz, promoted at the end of the year from Greenville to Salem, finished the year with 20 homers and 20 steals, becoming the first 20-20 player in the Red Sox system since 2005.

• Greenville third baseman Garin Cecchini stole two bases on the last day of the year, giving him 51 steals in 57 attempts.