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Tuesday, August 20, 2013
What role for Bogaerts?

By ESPNBoston.com



Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts will make his major league debut Tuesday night in San Francisco, a sight most of the faithful have been eagerly awaiting for months.

But how often will we see Bogaerts in the lineup?

Manager John Farrell says he will be used to spell shortstop Stephen Drew and third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the left side of the infield. He called Bogaerts a good right-handed complement to the left-handed Drew but stopped short of calling it a platoon situation.

Drew has played in 26 straight games. He likely will be sitting tonight in favor of Bogaerts at shortstop. Going forward, the rotation is much less clear. Drew has a .193 average in 114 at-bats against left-handers this season. So does that mean Bogaerts now will get some of those at-bats? He hit .298 with a .926 OPS against southpaws at Triple-A Pawtucket.

The next left-handed starter the Red Sox are scheduled to face is Dodgers rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has had an impressive season. He has a sub-3.00 ERA and 12 wins.

Middlebrooks is hitting .444 with a 1.210 OPS since being recalled from Pawtucket, so it’ll be hard to take him out of the lineup if he produces consistently. If he drops into a funk like the one he started the season in, we could see more of Bogaerts in that spot.

ESPN Insider Keith Law thinks Bogaerts is better suited for shortstop, at least for the long term.

“He’s done a lot of work on conditioning to keep his body in essentially shortstop shape,” Law says in the "Baseball Tonight" clip above. “Because when he first came into pro ball, the concern was he gets so big, he wouldn’t be able to stay there and would have to move to third. As long he keeps that extra weight off and not add too much muscle to the upper half of his body, I think he stays at short.”

Law has Bogaerts ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball.

“I love the kid in terms of the long-term impact,” he said. “I think he’s got a very simple approach to the plate, it’s a repeatable swing, the ball comes off his bat really well. Even though he’s not filled out yet, I think he’s got quite a bit of power right now but has the potential to be a 25-, 30-home run guy down the road.”

What would you do if you were in Farrell’s shoes? How many days per week would you play Bogaerts, who at 20 years old is the third-youngest player in the majors? And who would be the odd man out? Vote in our poll above.