The last time he saw Xander Bogaerts, Gary DiSarcina was a roving infield coordinator and Bogaerts was 17 years old.
The encounter was brief, three or four days while Bogaerts was in the Dominican Summer League. DiSarcina saw six, maybe eight at-bats.
Bogaerts was raw, but he was also one of the Red Sox’ top prospects. And nothing about the way Bogaerts carried himself at the plate gave any indication that he was a teenager.
“What stood out was his maturity,” said DiSarcina, now the Pawtucket Red Sox manager. “His presence in the batter’s box stood out. His ability to control counts and his ability to go the other way.
“I remember him hitting a couple of line drives to the right side of the field and a couple of base hits to center. Not really swinging at too many pitches in the dirt. That stood out for a young kid.”
There was one thing, though, that went hand-in-hand with youth: a sincere and wide-eyed love for baseball. DiSarcina told him to hold on to that.
“One of the things I really enjoyed — we talked about it when I was his coordinator — was he has a joy about him when he plays. When I look back on him, I just remember a real raw kid who had a good eye at the plate and a presence about him and a smile on his face every time I saw him.”
Three years later, Bogaerts is still young, still talented, and generally considered the top prospect in the Sox’ farm system.
In 56 games with Portland, he set the Eastern League ablaze, hitting .311 with 6 home runs, 12 doubles, 6 triples, and 35 RBIs, making it look all too easy. Those numbers led to his promotion Thursday to Pawtucket.
At 20, Bogaerts will be the youngest position player in PawSox history.
“I think his teammates are really going to feed off him,” DiSarcina said. “When he plays, he has a genuine excitement for the game. Whether he’s going good or going bad.’’
With Jose Iglesias carving out a place for himself as a utility infielder with the parent club, the door opened to advance Bogaerts along.
Early in the season, when Bogaerts was hitting just .222, there were questions about whether playing seven games for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic in March had affected him.
But he was never fazed by the slow start. He ended up hitting .306 in April. In May, his averaged dipped to .277 but his power numbers surged (5 homers, 22 RBIs). Over his first 10 games this month, he hit .424, and his walks (9) were ahead of his strikeouts (6).
In four seasons, Bogaerts has never played anywhere in the field besides shortstop, and he will be the regular shortstop in Pawtucket, DiSarcina said.
“We’re going to play him six days a week at short and give him a day off and see what he can do.”
Boston manager John Farrell likewise sees Bogaerts as a shortstop in the long term, but said he would play some third and second in the minors, just in case a need arises in the majors.
“It’s exciting,” said Farrell. “ This looks to be a pretty special player. He’s well ahead of the age curve.
“You see the ability. But you get to know the guy and see how he acts. The guy lights up a room when he walks into it. He’s got that charisma.”
Three to watch
■ Drake Britton: Giving up just six hits over seven innings against Erie Tuesday, the Sea Dogs lefty tossed the first complete game of his career, striking out three and holding the SeaWolves hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.
■Keury De La Cruz: After going 0 for 9 in his first two games this month, Salem’s 21-year-old left fielder strung together a 12-game hitting streak, batting .477 (21 of 44) with six doubles and 16 RBIs. His 23 doubles lead the Carolina League.
■ Bryce Brentz: His 3-for-5, four-RBI outburst against Syracuse last Sunday carried the PawSox in a 5-3 win. Over the three game series, the 24-year-old slugger went 6 for 11 with two homers and six RBIs.