Commentary

Xander Bogaerts waits in the wings

It's only a matter of time before the Red Sox's top prospect gets a shot in Boston

Updated: August 1, 2013, 2:28 PM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- He's coming.

Today, tomorrow, the weekend, in a week or two, the Red Sox aren't saying.

But he's coming.

The only people who think the third-base platoon of Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder is anything but a placeholder are the same folks who believed manager John Farrell when he said he replaced Jose Iglesias in the ninth inning with Snyder on Tuesday night because he wanted to get Snyder on the field.

[+] EnlargeXander Bogaerts
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesXander Bogaerts had two hits in the All-Star Futures game and seems fast-tracked for stardom.

Which is to say, no one.

Farrell wasn't at liberty to announce the trade of Iglesias to the Detroit Tigers in a three-way deal with the Chicago White Sox that has Jake Peavy coming to Boston, so he stretched the truth a little. It wasn't so much that he wanted to get Snyder on the field than to get Iglesias off it. We understand.

Just like we understand that Farrell will under no circumstance show any disrespect to a couple of part-timers like Snyder and Holt, both of whom have helped the Sox win games this year.

But Farrell's reluctance to state what is becoming increasingly obvious doesn't change the fact that he's coming. You don't trade your everyday third baseman, then pass on acquiring an available veteran like Michael Young at the deadline, unless there is conviction within your organization that you have someone waiting in the wings, prepared to make an impact.

In the meantime, if you need to say that Holt is here because he can also play shortstop and Snyder, a minor league free agent, remains because he is out of options and you don't want to risk losing him on waivers, we'll let it slide.

Because he's coming.

Is he ready?

Let's turn the question around, and ask, who's to say he's not?

Manny Machado was 19 when the Orioles called him up to the big leagues late last summer. He had played 109 games at the Double-A level, none in Triple-A, at the time he was promoted. He helped the Orioles win a playoff spot down the stretch last year, and is an MVP candidate in 2013.

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Yasiel Puig, 22, had played 63 games in the minors, only 40 at a level as high as Double-A, when he was brought up by the Dodgers. He has been the best story in baseball, helping transform a deadbeat last-place team into an NL West front-runner.

There are 18 position players 22 or younger in the big leagues. Some have names you see nightly in the highlight clips. Mike Trout. Bryce Harper. Wil Myers. Puig. Machado.

How times have changed: In 1964, when 19-year-old Tony Conigliaro announced his arrival with a home run in his first Fenway Park at-bat, there were 67 position players 22 or younger in the big leagues. That's with just 20 teams, just two-thirds of the 30 teams in existence today.

It was a young man's game then, and there has always been room for the most promising of the kids, be it a 19-year-old Tony C. or 20-year-olds Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams, a 21-year-old Yaz and a 21-year-old Dwight Evans.

And there will be room for him, too, when he comes, because that's how much the Red Sox think of him. Sometimes you have to stop nurturing, and let them loose.

"He's in the discussion," Farrell acknowledged Wednesday. "But the fact is, he's still a nonroster [player] and we wanted to preserve a spot in the event that something else happened. We're just letting the dust settle right now."

There was no other move. The dust has settled. He's coming.

"That doesn't suggest that his move or his recall or purchase of his contract is imminent," Farrell insisted. "But he's done a good job and he's played third of late, trying to get some exposure there. We're just trying to cover everything we can do in Pawtucket if in fact he's the guy, which right now he is not, but that's just normal preparation and the development."

General manager Ben Cherington edged a little closer to the truth.

"I think when you get to Triple-A, there's no such thing as a prospect," he said. "You're part of the major league depth, you're part of the major league roster. So anybody down there could be up here the next day, if anything happens."

Something big has happened. Iglesias is in Detroit. He is coming. Will Middlebrooks will be disappointed, perhaps profoundly so, because he wants to return, and it appears the Red Sox remain unconvinced he is ready to do so. But they held onto him at the trading deadline, and by all accounts, he is still viewed as an important part of the Sox future.

But today, tomorrow, the weekend, in a week or two, 20-year-old Xander Bogaerts, face of the Sox future, is coming. He played on a global stage this spring in the World Baseball Classic. He had two hits in the showcase All-Star Futures game. Promoted from Portland to Pawtucket, he has hit more home runs in Triple-A (8) than Double-A (6), 14 in all, in 99 games this season. He has an .864 OPS in Pawtucket, and over his last 10 games is batting .371 with a 1.035 OPS.

The Sox showed faith in a young Jackie Bradley Jr. They did the same in Iglesias. Now is the time to do the same for Bogaerts.

He's coming. Unfinished? Sure. He's played only a handful of games at third base. Overmatched? If so, it won't be for long. And it's certainly worth bringing him here to find out.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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