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October 8, 2010 at 10:09 AM

The Book: Xander Bogaerts

SS Xander Bogaerts
Date: October 1 and 2, 2010
Team: Fall Instructional League

Frame: Standing 6’3’’ and weighing 175 pounds, Bogaerts has an athletic and lean body, and he should be able to pack on some more muscle as he physically matures over the next few seasons. Wiry with strong hands, he’s able to generate bat speed with his wrists and create torque through his hips to drive the head of the bat through the strike zone to the point of contact. Thinner through his lower body, Bogaerts has some good room to fill out his legs and develop a strong core to give himself a solid foundation to enhance his raw baseball skills, while adding more explosiveness to his actions. He is a natural shortstop that shows fluid reactions with his body, though his frame and his potential to fill out lend clues that he will eventually slide over to third base, especially if he packs on more pounds in his lower body and loses some range. While young and on the leaner side at this point in his development, Bogaerts appears to have a strong body type, and should be able to bring an element of power to his game while maintaining enough athleticism to remain on the left side of the infield.

Power/Approach: Despite being lean, Bogaerts can generate good batting-practice power for his age, and shows flashes of that power in game action. Already with some loft in his swing path, he has a nice follow through after making contact and drives the ball with backspin when he squares it up. As Bogaerts strides forward, he has an early understanding of how to keep his hands back and not over commit his weight, which allows him to remain balanced, stay back on the ball, and keep his hands in a good position to generate power. This is a good sign that he will be able to hit breaking balls as his pitch recognition comes up to speed. With physical maturation and continued honing of his technique, he can progress into a player with average or better power at the plate. Bogaerts also displays the ability to go with pitches on the outside corner and resist the urge to pull every pitch. His strike zone judgment is in the raw stages, though, and he’ll sometimes chase elevated fastballs, but that is something that should improve with continued experience as a professional.

Take: Finishing up his first season in the Red Sox organization, spending the year in the Dominican Summer League, Bogaerts is on track for arrival state-side in 2011. Much of his short-term development should focus on building his approach at the plate and slowing the game down defensively. He can tend to rush plays in the field, and can be a bit choppy with his footwork. With a slightly above-average arm, the ball comes out of his hand well, but his arm action looks on the shorter side and he may have trouble making the long throws from the hole to nab runners at higher levels. Bogaerts should stick at the position in the near future and continue to develop his defensive skills, though a move to third base after he fills out seems likely. Offensively, he has a high ceiling and shows the potential to be a run-producing bat. While raw in expected areas for a player of his age, like pitch recognition and strike zone judgment, he also shows positive traits in other areas that players his age tend to need more work on. His swing mechanics and separation with his hands lend clues that he can become a power threat in the batter’s box and pile up extra-base hits as he grows into his frame. Very much a projection-type player right now without much experience at the professional level and one with a long way to go developmentally, Bogaerts shows a nice foundation of tools and the beginnings of polish in key areas. There will be plenty of adjustments going forward in the United States, especially learning to hit secondary pitches and becoming more of a patient hitter, but he has the potential to be a rising hitter in the lower ranks of the Red Sox system next season.