The future is coming quickly for the Boston Red Sox.
Boston’s top prospect, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, has been hitting the lights out in Double-A Portland this season, which tempted the club to promote him. Instead of bringing him up straight to the majors like some other teams have done this year, the Red Sox sent him to Triple-A Pawtucket.
The decision to promote Bogaerts was announced by the official Twitter account of the Pawtucket Red Sox and the team’s official Instagram account.
In 56 games in Double-A this season, Bogaerts was hitting .311/.407/.502 with six home runs, 35 RBI and 40 runs. The 20-year-old has played shortstop for his entire career, but many have speculated on the chance that he eventually moves to third base or a corner outfield in the future due to his size and power.
According to Tim Britton of The Providence Journal, Boston is going to have Bogaerts play short to start in Triple-A, but will be moving him around to see what he’s capable of at other positions.
Here’s what Boston manager John Farrell told Alex Speier of WEEI about Bogaerts and his fast progression through the Red Sox’s minor league system:
This is looks to be a pretty special player. He’s well ahead of the age curve, being at Triple-A at 20. You see the tools, you see the ability, but you get to know the guy and see how he acts, the guy lights up the room when he walks into it. He’s got that charisma, he’s got a lot going for him.
While Bogaerts is still one level away from the majors, several players on Boston’s 25-man roster need to be on high alert starting right now.
It’s unknown as to how long the Red Sox will keep Bogaerts in Triple-A, but if he continues to destroy minor league pitching, they’ll have no other option than to give him the call-up—whether that’s later this season or at some point in 2014.
Boston’s left side of the infield has not been very impressive this season. That is, until Jose Iglesias came up and started to play regularly. Stephen Drew has played well defensively, but has struggled at the plate. Will Middlebrooks has been atrocious at the plate and has had issues staying healthy.
It’s evident that Iglesias isn’t likely to be the long-term answer at shortstop any longer. Boston has been working Iglesias out at second base and third base over the last month, primarily using him as a utility infielder since he was recalled from the minors in late May.
Iglesias’ offense has drastically improved this year, which had been one of the reasons why Boston was reluctant to give him the starting role—and eventually signed Drew over the offseason.
It’s clear that Iglesias needs to be playing as often as possible to continue his development with the bat, but he can no longer go back to Triple-A to work on things. Bogaerts now holds the starting shortstop role there, meaning Iglesias will have to make the most of what could be limited time in the majors.
Because of Drew’s poor hitting this season, he also has seen as much time as many would’ve expected entering the season. After signing a one-year deal in the offseason, Drew was thought to have the job in hand—with Boston knowing that he might not contribute much on offense.
But while Drew has been outstanding defensively—and also playing a little bit of third base too—he’s been horrible at the plate.
With Iglesias playing so well overall, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Drew’s time at short decreased even more. He just doesn’t deserve to be playing every day.
I also wouldn’t be shocked if Boston doesn't bring Drew back for another year if his production doesn’t improve soon. Several teams will be seeking a shortstop at the trade deadline or for 2014, and if Iglesias continues to hit, Boston could use him while Bogaerts continues to develop at Triple-A.
While it might seen like a bit of a long shot, Middlebrooks better watch his back too because his spot on the team is far from secure. It wasn’t even guaranteed that he would be on the big-league roster once healthy, according to Maureen Mullen of Comcast SportsNet New England.
After hitting .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 75 games a year ago, Middlebrooks has made 2012 look like a fluke. He’s flirted with the .200 mark for nearly the entire season, he’s striking out a ton and is more of a liability than an asset for the Red Sox at this point in the season.
If Iglesias—or Drew—continues to hit like a normal major leaguer, the Red Sox could decide to move Bogaerts to third base.
While Boston has done its best to keep Bogaerts at his natural position, in order to play the best players, Bogaerts may have to move a few feet to his right.
Middlebrooks needs to start hitting like he did a year ago if he wants to stay on the team. It’s that simple. He’s not the best fielder and, so far, looks to be a very inconsistent hitter. Sure, he was a top prospect, but he’s running out of time to prove that he will be the long-term solution at third base in Boston.
With Bogaerts now in Triple-A, it’s only a matter of time until his next promotion.
Those who are playing on the left side of Boston’s infield have been warned. It’s either hit or your job could be on the line in the next few months.