Monday, August 19, 2013
Bogaerts didn't see call-up coming
By Joe Stiglich, Special to ESPNBoston.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Xander Bogaerts said the news of his first major league call-up caught him by complete surprise.
“I was at the hotel playing dominoes with some of my [Triple-A] teammates, just having a good time,” the Red Sox’s top prospect said Monday. “I was surprised by the phone call.”
Certainly the hype surrounding the 20-year-old infielder suggested his ticket to the big leagues would be punched before too long.
Boston promoted Bogaerts from Triple-A Pawtucket in time for him to join the team for its Monday morning flight to San Francisco, where the Red Sox begin a three-game series against the Giants on Monday night.
He is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the majors by ESPN’s Keith Law, a player believed to have 30-homer potential even if his defense has room for improvement.
Bogaerts was not in Monday night’s lineup, but Red Sox manager John Farrell said Bogaerts could start Tuesday. Farrell said he sees Bogaerts boosting depth on the left side of the infield, calling him a good right-handed complement at shortstop to left-handed hitting veteran Stephen Drew, though he made a point not to label it a platoon situation.
On his first day as a major leaguer, Xander Bogaerts looks on as David Ortiz takes batting practice.
Farrell downplayed the timing of Bogaerts’ promotion, saying it was more about providing depth than lighting a fire in a squad that’s lost seven of its past 10 games.
But Farrell added, “We’re talking about a young exciting offensive player, really a good player all-around at 20 years of age [who] is still developing. But [we] feel like he, as a person and with his abilities, will give us a shot in the arm and make an impact here.”
All signs point to Bogaerts playing more shortstop than third base, a position he played in the World Baseball Classic with Team Netherlands but one he admits he’s not as comfortable at.
Will Middlebrooks has handled third for the Sox since being promoted Aug. 10, and he’s hitting .462 with four RBIs since rejoining Boston, so he’s not likely to come out of the lineup often.
“Will Middlebrooks has done an excellent job since coming back to us,” Farrell said.
Bogaerts took notice when Boston traded shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias to Detroit, saying that gave him confidence that the organization views shortstop as his long-term position.
But he added, “Whatever the Red Sox organization and manager wants me to do, I’ll be available.”
Bogaerts -- who is from Dutch-speaking Aruba, which is part of Netherlands Antilles -- hit .263 in the WBC for the Netherlands. He admitted his timing was off in spring training, but he’s hit .297 with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs in 116 games combined for Double-A Portland and Pawtucket.
Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who managed Netherlands in the WBC, got to know Bogaerts well during the international showcase.
“He's been their No. 1 prospect, so he's been on the path,” Meulens said before Monday’s game. “He was up and down a little bit in the Classic, but he got the experience and they knew the talent.
“I think they feel like he's ready. He's coming up for a first-place team right before the playoff rosters [are set]. I'm sure they're looking for him to contribute to the winning cause.”