June 13, 2013 at 8:46 PM
Xander Bogaerts wasn't expecting a promotion to Triple-A, but shortly after the Sea Dogs' doubleheader on Wednesday night the 20-year-old received the news to pack his bags for a trip to join the International League North leaders in Pawtucket.
“Oh man, special," Bogaerts said when asked his reaction to the promotion. "I know I've been playing great baseball [in Portland] and I was happy to be called up. Everyone wants to get called up when the season begins, so I was happy with the way things were going. I didn't expect it, to be honest. After a long day [with the doubleheader], what a way to make your day. It was nice day to pick."
Bogaerts batted .311/.407/.502 in 56 games with Portland this season, a slash line that would have been even stronger if not for a two-week slump to start the year in which the shortstop batted .245/.286/.283 in 12 games. Bogaerts went on to hit .331/.441/.572 in his final 44 games in Double-A this season, and he credits one key difference in his approach with allowing him to relish success before moving from Maine to Rhode Island.
"Selectiveness, swinging at my pitches," Bogaerts said from the PawSox clubhouse on Thursday. "In the beginning they threw me so many off speed that I would just be swinging, swinging, swinging."
"Afterwards I realized, ‘Hey, you know they’re showing me different things than normal,' so I had to be more patient, lay off the changeups and curveballs, and then I started getting my pitches to hit. That to me was the only difference.”
Bogaerts' patient approach paid off in more ways than one. Not only did he accumulate 32 of his 35 walks in Double-A over 203 plate appearances during that 44-game hot stretch, he proved to the front office that he was ready to make the jump to the next level, one that provides more advanced pitching.
Bogaerts hasn't discussed differences in Triple-A pitching with other players, but nonetheless he feels ready to take on the task that has been presented to him.
“For me, baseball is the same," said Bogaerts, who reached base safely in all but six games with Portland. "I’m not saying this in a bragging way or something, but a pitcher has to throw it over the plate and I have to make a good swing. If I control the pitches over the strike zone, hopefully things will go good."
"But I just have to lay off swinging at bad pitches. I’ll probably ask a few guys later on how the pitchers are different here. I know Triple-A [players are] a little more experienced. They throw more off speed, but I’ll be patient out there.”
Bogaerts will look to begin his Triple-A career on Friday when the PawSox make up tonight's rained out affair against the Buffalo Bisons in a doubleheader starting at 5:35 pm ET.
Photo Credit: Xander Bogaerts by Kelly O'Connor
Kevin Pereira is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects. Follow him on Twitter @kevinrpereira.