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SoxProspects News

February 7, 2011 at 1:16 PM

2011 Prospect Previews: Xander Bogaerts and Madison Younginer

With Spring Training set to get under way, SoxProspects.com will be taking an in depth look at many of the system's prospects with previews set for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday leading up to Opening Day. The first installment of the series features two of the Red Sox' younger prospects looking to continue their development in the lower levels of the system in 2011.

Xander Bogaerts
Position: Shortstop
2010 Team: Dominican Summer League Red Sox
2011 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners
Opening Day Age: 18

Strengths: With a lean and athletic body, Bogaerts possesses the type of frame that should be able to pack on a lot of muscle and fill out as he starts to mature in the coming years. Already showing some traits of a more advanced hitter, he uses his strong and quick wrists to his advantage by driving his hands down through the strike zone with very good batspeed to square up the ball and produce excellent backspin with natural loft in his swing. Bogaerts has displayed an early understanding of how to keep his hands back and not over-commit when he begins his stride, which allows him to stay balanced and drive through the ball with power. He’s shown the ability to go with the ball on the outer third and rifle an outside fastball into right field, rather than being overaggressive and trying to pull it. Very much a good looking hitter at the plate, Bogaerts has an impressive offensive package and one that can round into a run producing type of hitter. He is a natural shortstop who shows good reactions and crisp, fluid actions. His defensive game has the look of a potential average-to-better defender on the left side of the infield. Bogaerts’ quick feet allow him to move easily in either direction and he displays soft hands when fielding the ball.

Development Needs: Like a lot of young players, Bogaerts needs to slow the game down defensively and resist the urge to rush plays, which has lead to a lot of early errors to start his career. The main thing for him is to trust his defensive skills while continuing to get repetitions to improve his footwork at shortstop and judgment on balls hit right at him. Bogaerts’ arm is about average-to-slightly above-average and he has shorter arm action when throwing, almost looking like he is pushing the ball on some throws. While he is likely to fill out and move over to third base down the line, his arm also does not look like it is going to play as well at shortstop as he moves up the ranks, especially on balls hit deeper into the hole requiring a long throw to nab a runner. After spending last year in the Dominican Summer League, Bogaerts is going to have his approach challenged considerably with the more advanced pitching he is going to see in the United States. With his strike zone judgment very raw, he’s going to need to work on learning what pitches he can and cannot handle, while improving his overall discipline in order to not chase pitches and get himself out. Improvement and making strides in this part of his game will be the biggest thing for him in building his offensive game.

2011 Outlook: Just 18 years of age, Bogaerts is an exciting high ceiling prospect within the Red Sox organization. While advanced in some areas, he’s also raw in others, and overall is still a player with a lot of development ahead of him. Bogaerts more than likely will stay back in Fort Myers when the full season teams head north. He will spend time in the organization’s Extended Spring Training to continue to receive close instruction, with an eye on heading up to Lowell in June when their season gets underway. Being exposed to more advanced pitching for the first time, Bogaerts will most likely experience a period of adjustment as he settles in, but he did look comfortable against older pitchers at the team’s Instructional League this past fall. As the season gets going, Bogaerts should flash some of his line drive power as he gets settled and also start to show the traits of a hitter that is capable of working counts to get pitches he can drive to all fields with authority. Bigger home run totals are a few seasons away, but don’t be surprised to see him hit a handful of balls over the wall due to his excellent batspeed and natural loft in his swing. 2011 is a year of development for Bogaerts to work on all facets of his game and start to round towards becoming a complete baseball player. While he’s seasons away from rising into the picture in the upper minors, this year should lend the first look at what type of player Bogaerts can become and provide the initial development steps for moving towards that ceiling.

Madison Younginer
Position: Starting Pitcher
2010 Teams: Lowell Spinners
2011 Projected Team: Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 20

Strengths: Younginer possesses an extremely live arm and a fastball capable of hitting 95 MPH or better when he reaches back. When he is able to get on top of the ball and follows through his delivery, his fastball shows nice downward movement as it approaches the strike zone and some late life as it jumps on hitters. Younginer also throws a two-seam variety of his fastball that sits around 90 MPH and runs in on right-handed batters, getting up under their hands. His fastball has the potential to be very overpowering as he continues to learn to reel the pitch in and have confidence throwing it. Younginer’s future out-pitch, and the one that provides a wrinkle in his arsenal, is his mid-70s 12-to-6 curveball. Although he is inconsistent finishing the pitch, it shows excellent depth and sharp, tight break when he snaps it off. With plus potential, his curveball has the look of one that can round into a very devastating pitch for him and be one Younginer leans on ahead in the count to pick up swings and misses. Standing 6’4’’ and on the lean side, he has the type of body that can fill out some more to increase his strength and enable him to take the rigors of a starting pitcher.

Development Needs: Younginer’s command is presently below-average and he struggles considerably to repeat his release point. An over-the-top thrower, he has very long arm action in the back and lacks fluidity when getting himself started. His delivery is also slow, which makes him prone to giving up stolen bases. Younginer starts by bringing his front shoulder up as he rocks back while extending his throwing arm further out, before moving his body forward and bringing his arm back up to deliver the ball. All of this extra motion, plus a stiff landing, and rigid body actions causes him to have trouble keeping a consistent release point, and makes it difficult for him to fluidly repeat his delivery. The result is very spotty fastball command and varying points at which his fastball comes out of his hand. It also seems to zap some of his velocity and keep him from consistently operating in his upper reaches. Younginer put in a lot of work to clean up his delivery and slow down his mechanics. However, further improvement is necessary to really sharpen his fastball command and improve his arsenal, especially becoming more consistent with his curveball and continuing to find the feel for his developing change-up. The rounding out of a three-pitch repertoire will be key for Younginer to continue to project as a starting pitching down the line.

2011 Outlook: Another one of the young arms in the lower levels of the Red Sox system, Younginer spent the 2010 season getting his feet wet in professional baseball and beginning the early stages of his development. After spending last season at Lowell, he should be ready to take the next step and break camp with the Greenville Drive. Younginer is still very much a work in progress, but he shows the type of stuff that can become electric as he learns how to control his delivery and reel in his arsenal. Better command is a must and a cut down in the amount of walks he issues, while seeing a spike in his strikeouts, will be a good sign that he is making some improvement with that aspect of his game during this coming season. Steady improvement and more consistency is another thing to look for out of Younginer. While a big jump in performance is not to be expected, an uptick in his performance should not be out of the question and working ahead in more counts will help lead him in that direction. Younginer will continue to work out of the rotation to build arm strength and polish off his repertoire. Expect to see his innings increase this season, but that will also depend on whether he can keep himself in games longer and be effective deeper into outings. 2011 is another season of development for Younginer and also one to look for some positive signs of improvement, while seeing how he settles in against full season competition. An intriguing arm, followers should get more of a glimpse of Younginer’s potential this season, and what type of role that may be in down the line as he begins to approach the upper levels of the system.