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August 30, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Bogaerts highlights seven Red Sox named minor league All-Stars

The Carolina League, South Atlantic League and Gulf Coast League each announced their post-season All-Star teams today, and several Red Sox prospects received recognition. Outfielder Keury De La Cruz was the lone representative from the Greenville Drive, while the High A Salem Red Sox had five players chosen: outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., shortstop Xander Bogaerts, third baseman Michael Almanzar, catcher Christian Vazquez, and designated hitter Travis Shaw. Pitcher Sergio Gomez was named in the Gulf Coast League, along with outfielder Jeremias Pineda, who saw much of his production in the league before his early-August trade to the Twins.

Bogaerts (pictured, left), currently rated the #1 prospect at SoxProspects.com, had an excellent season despite being one of the youngest players in the league. The 19-year-old shortstop hit .302/.378/.505 with 15 home runs and 27 doubles in 104 games before his promotion to Double-A Portland on August 9. His .505 slugging percentage and .883 OPS both place him third in the Carolina League. 

Bradley, 22, earned Carolina League honors as well, despite being promoted to Double-A back on June 20, and playing only 67 games at the level. The 2011 supplemental first round pick out of South Carolina dominated out of the chute in his first full professional season, sporting a .359/.480/.526 line before his promotion at the All-Star break. Bradley's 52 walks rank him sixth in the league, despite spending only half the season there.

Vazquez finished in a tie with Braeden Schlehuber of Lynchburg at the catcher position. After winning the 2011 Red Sox minor league defensive player of the year, Vazquez continued to establish himself as a two-way player, showcasing an advanced plate approach that led him to a .266/.360/.396 line. Vazquez was promoted to Portland on August 3.

Shaw earned recognition as the Carolina League designated hitter, despite seeing the lion's share of his playing time at first base. A ninth-round pick in the 2011 draft, the son of former major league All-Star Jeff Shaw had a monster offensive year in his first full season, hitting .305/.411/.545 that gives him a league-best .956 OPS. Shaw was leading the league in RBI when he was promoted to Portland on August 1.

The recognition for Almanzar (pictured, right)  would certainly have been considered the most unlikely heading into the season. Originally signed to a $1.5M signing bonus back in 2007, Almanzar had struggled mightily on both sides of the plate, bottoming out with a .199/.243/.275 season across two levels in 2011. In 2012, he worked hard to shake the "bust" label, hitting .302/.357/.465, including a stretch in July in which he reached base in a league-record 16 consecutive plate appearances.

De La Cruz, the lone representative for Greenville, gets the news a day after receiving a promotion to Salem. The 20-year-old out of the Dominican Republic has been one of the breakout stars in the Red Sox system, hitting .308/.352/.536, and he currently ranks in the top three in the South Atlantic League in hits, RBI and slugging percentage. After De La Cruz saw much of his playing time in center field during his first three professional seasons, he moved almost exclusively to left field in 2012.

Gomez is in his third year in the Gulf Coast League, where he has improved steadily each season.  The lanky right-hander went 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 12 appearances, eight of them starts. He struck out 56 while walking only 10 in 57.1 innings, while compiling an impressive 0.942 WHIP. Originally signed in 2009, Gomez set career bests in nearly every category, leading the GCL Red Sox to their first league championship series since 2006.

Photo credit: Xander Bogaerts by Kelly O'Connor; Michael Almanzar by drivfan08.