Considering the fact that Jose Iglesias has only played in one "B" game thus far in spring training, it is hard to give solid evidence to say that without a shadow of a doubt, he will be the man playing shortstop for the 2012 Boston Red Sox.
What we are left with is gut feelings based on the glimpses from the otherwise meaningless game against the Minnesota Twins.
Nobody has any doubts regarding the kid's defense. Not even Iglesias himself. In an article on WEEI.com, Rob Bradford points out Iglesias's confident nature:
After much reflection (“I don’t know. I’ve made a lot of them,” the confident young shortstop said), Iglesias identified a play he made while playing in the Arizona Fall League in which he went back on a pop up, ended up diving head-first toward the outfield fence and made the catch.
The chief concern many critics and coaches alike share for Iglesias is his bat, which is no secret. His numbers in Boston last year are very deceiving. Sure, he posted a .333 batting average, but that was on a 2-for-6 sample size in 10 games.
When sent back down to the minors, Iglesias appeared overmatched at time for the Pawtucket Red Sox, managing just a .235 average in 101 games and 387 plate appearances.
However, yesterday showed a glimpse of how Iglesias has improved in that measure. Again, it is a tiny sample size, but if you believe in Malcom Gladwell's theory of "thin slicing" as outlined in his book "Blink" then you could derive a lot from what happened yesterday. To summarize the theory in its simplest form, essentially it breaks down to the idea that one does not need to eat a big piece of cake to determine if you like it or not. That can be ascertained by one bite.
With that in mind, The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham, God bless him, conducted a live blog during the "B" game in which he wrote, "Iglesias ripped the first pitch (of the game) up the middle." From that, the first thing we can assume is that he made solid contact. It could also be perceived that he didn't have much plate discipline having swung at the first pitch of the first game in spring training.
On the flip side, at his second and final at-bat of the day, Iglesias would fall behind 0-2, and then proceed to draw a walk. As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal points out, Iglesias had only 21 walks in Triple-A last year.
Manager Bobby Valentine told Britton, regarding Iglesias and his plate discipline:
“I thought he was a little lucky to walk today, personally,” Valentine said. “Plate discipline is a wonderful thing. It comes from confidence in a mechanic and an aggressive attitude. He has the aggressive attitude, and when he gets a good mechanic, I think he could have plate discipline.”
As I said, it is early and it is tremendously hard to be sure, but my gut tells me that Iglesias has arrived and now is the time for him to prove that to everyone.