The Red Sox are not expected to have significant involvement in this year’s World Baseball Classic, a 16-team tournament that begins in March in four venues. Hawaiian-born Shane Victorino, who split center-field duties with Curtis Granderson for Team USA in 2009 and batted .316, has signaled his intention to return to the team this spring, while Alfredo Aceves is expected to be on Team Mexico’s provisional roster.
But it’s possible that the WBC could turn into a coming-out party for one Red Sox player: shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the team’s top prospect, who according to a source is likely to represent Team Netherlands. Bogaerts, 20, is from Dutch-speaking Aruba, an island that is part of the Netherlands Antilles, and thus is eligible to play for Team Netherlands.
Bogaerts was a member of the 2011 Netherlands team that scored a stunning upset in the Baseball World Cup when it defeated 25-time champion Cuba, 2-1, in the finals, though Bogaerts, only 18 at the time, did not play in that game. He also played for the World team in last summer’s All-Star Futures game.
Bogaerts is rising rapidly through the Red Sox system, earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in early August and playing 23 games for the Sea Dogs. Between Class A Salem and Portland, he posted a .373/.523/.896 batting line and hit 20 home runs, 15 coming in Salem. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, it remains to be seen whether Bogaerts will remain at short, though no position change is planned at this time.
He is expected to begin this season back in Portland, though his stay could be a short one.
“Absolutely, it’ll be an interesting and challenging season for him,” Ben Crockett, the team’s director of player development, said at last week’s rookie development camp.
“No matter what the stats say at the end of the year, there will be things he’ll encounter that will probably be things he hasn’t seen before, whether it’s the way he’s pitched or the way he’s defensively challenged as the game continues to speed up.”
Rosters are scheduled to be announced Thursday.