Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts is another on a growing list of gifted international players bursting onto the professional baseball scene. Signed along with his twin brother, Jair, out of Aruba in 2009, Bogaerts is ranked No. 1 on the Red Sox's Top 20 Prospects list and No. 6 on MLB.com's Top 100.
I had the opportunity to scout Bogaerts in the All-Star Futures Game, where he got two hits. I truly believe that what I saw is not what the Red Sox will ultimately get. I think Bogaerts has tremendous upside beyond his current playing level. And I don't think he'll remain at shortstop.
At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Bogaerts has a very broad upper body with wide shoulders. His trunk is average in comparison. Being only 20 years old, I think Bogaerts will continue to develop physically. I think he will outgrow the shortstop position. For me, Bogaerts projects as a power-hitting third baseman or corner outfielder. He's a tremendous athlete.
A complete player, Bogaerts is capable of playing anywhere he is needed, using his outstanding baseball instincts, strong arm, overall balance and strength.
Bogaerts projects to be a game-changing power hitter. His hands are lightning quick through the ball, and he has an ability to use his strong forearms and hands to guide the pitch to the opposite field. As a right-handed hitter, Bogaerts' greatest success will likely come from his pull side as he gets his hands inside the ball and turns on pitches with force.
After being tested at every level of the Red Sox's system, Bogaerts is currently playing at Triple-A Pawtucket in the International League. He has eight home runs, 26 RBIs and 25 walks in 49 games since being promoted from Double-A Portland. In 105 games combined at both levels, Bogaerts has posted a solid slash line of .294/.390/.484, with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs.
Defensively, Bogaerts is not an elite shortstop. He is very capable and certainly able to provide Major League-quality defense at shortstop. Bogaerts' footwork is not as fluid as one might wish. He has adequate range and gets to balls, but at times he looks a bit awkward in the process.
Bogaerts isn't fast, but he can steal his share of bases on quickness and the use of his baseball intelligence. With greater repetition, he will ultimately know how and when to run.
It's very possible the Red Sox could use Bogaerts' power and hitting tools as soon as this season. He could add a nice spark to the Major League club with his offensive capabilities.
While he may begin his Major League career at shortstop, from what I've seen, I project a bright future for Bogaerts at a different position.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.