March 21, 2013 at 7:13 PM
As Xander Bogaerts traversed the globe on the Netherlands’ improbable run to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic, he and his teammates were given plenty of time off to adjust to new time zones.
The team began its WBC campaign in Taiwan, then advanced through Tokyo before Monday night’s loss at the hands of the eventual champion Dominican Republic squad in San Francisco.
But now that Bogaerts has rejoined his Red Sox teammates in Fort Myers, he admits that his batting clock needs as much recalibrating as his body clock.
“I started off strong (in the WBC), but my timing is not the best right now,” Bogaerts, who went 5-for-19 with a pair of doubles in seven games for the Netherlands, said. The advanced competition of baseball's fledgling international tournament forced the 20-year-old Bogaerts to elevate his game, but the stop-and-start deliveries of the Japanese pitchers he faced proved difficult to adjust to, Bogaerts said. He
“They messed me up completely,” he said. “I’m just trying to get my timing back before the season starts.”
The Red Sox, for their part, are giving the precociously talented shortstop plenty of chances to get his timing back. Upon his return to camp on Wednesday, Bogaerts hit second in the first six innings of the Triple-A game against the Orioles, and on Thursday, he did the same for six innings in the High-A game against Tampa Bay. In both games, Bogaerts’s admitted lack of timing at the plate was evident. Bogaerts tracked the ball well on Thursday, but struggled to get good swings on the ball in many of his plate appearances.
Despite this setback upon returning to camp, Bogaerts is thankful that the Red Sox allowed him — an Aruba native — to both represent the Netherlands and take part in major league camp this season.
Bogaerts jumped into the top-10 in some prospect rankings this year after he followed up his impressive affiliated debut with Low-A Greenville by ripping through the Carolina League last season. In 104 games with High-A Salem, Bogaerts hit .302/.378/.505 with 15 home runs and 27 doubles. After an early-August promotion to Double-A Portland, Bogaerts his .326/.351/.598 with five home runs in 23 games. Half of his 30 hits in the Eastern League went for extra bases.
Now, with the world taking notice of his easy swing and power potential, Bogaerts — a career 10-for-23 base stealer — admits to only modest goals for the coming season.
“(I just want to) do the best I can, try to put good swings on balls, play good defense, and try to get a lot of infield hits — and 15 stolen bases,” Bogaerts said.
Photo Credit: Xander Bogaerts by Kelly O'Connor.
Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli. SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Chris Mellen and Northeast Scout Ian Cundall contributed to this report.