Red Sox Remain Confident In Iglesias

BOSTON—Almost from the moment that he signed a four-year, $8.25 million major league deal with the Red Sox, Jose Iglesias was declared the team's shortstop of the future. The general expectation was that the Sox viewed the defensive star as the heir apparent to Marco Scutaro, perhaps as early as 2012.

Yet even with the Sox sending Scutaro to the Rockies this offseason, Iglesias almost certainly will have to wait for his opportunity. Even with his game-changing glove, the 22-year-old—coming off a season when he hit .235/.285/.269 with one homer and 10 extra-base hits in 101 Triple-A games—appears destined to open the year back in Pawtucket to gain further experience and refine his approach at the plate.

"He's going to be a special kid sometime," PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler said of Iglesias, who signed out of Cuba in 2009. "We just need to be patient and make sure that when he gets back up there, he's ready to stay and not be overmatched again where you'd get into a funk and say, 'Is this guy ever going to hit?' "

The Sox are convinced that Iglesias' offensive potential exceeds his 2011 stat line. The same hand-eye coordination that makes the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder a spectacular fielder, team officials believe, will manifest itself in his offense. He shows good bat speed and what is described as surprising strength.

While acknowledging his offensive struggles, officials also note that Iglesias has just two years of pro experience in the U.S. and  has seen both seasons interrupted by fluke injuries—a broken finger in 2010 and a concussion after a beaning last July—that have limited him to 677 pro plate appearances. That limited experience—albeit while playing at advanced levels, including a pair of brief big league callups in 2011—has contributed to a need to hone his plate discipline and pitch recognition in order to identify opportunities to drive the ball. If he can develop that, the team remains optimistic about his potential long-term impact.

"He may need a little bit more time in Triple-A, but he's certainly capable of being a really good major league shortstop for years to come," general manager Ben Cherington said.

Sox Yarns

• The Red Sox signed 17-year-old Australian lefthander Daniel McGrath for a $400,000 bonus. The 6-foot-3 McGrath throws a low 90s fastball with a changeup and curveball, and he impressed the Sox with his feel for pitching.

• Former Cubs assistant GM Gary Hughes joined the Red Sox as a pro scouting consultant.