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Christian Koss justifying Red Sox’ belief he’s one of the best defenders in the minors

Christian Koss has impressed in camp for the Red Sox, the Double-A shortstop making a strong play in the hole during Wednesday's victory over Team Puerto Rico.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Prospect Christian Koss is turning some heads at camp, particularly on defense. The shortstop was late arriving at big league camp because of the recent birth of his child, but has shown off his range in the hole and his big arm since arriving. That’s no surprise to the Sox.

“He loves to play the game,” Cora said. “He’s made some great plays at shortstop, very athletic, versatile. He’s a good one.”

Cora added that the Red Sox ranked Koss, who spent last season in Double A and was acquired from Colorado in a December 2020 trade, as one of the best defenders in the minors. How?

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“A lot of my stuff goes into the mental side of it,” Koss said. “So a lot of anticipation, a lot of game prep, stuff like that. As far as the defensive aspect, I think a lot of it has to do with positioning, where coaches put me. But it’s a lot of anticipation and just getting good jumps on balls.”

Cora raved about the infielder’s high baseball IQ. An IQ, according to Koss, that developed due to his lack of size. He was 5-foot-2 entering his freshman year of high school. He graduated at roughly 5-foot-9 and reached 6 feet during his freshman year at UC Irvine.

“Being that small kind of player, that’s where I had to stand out,” Koss said. “I had to know more about the game, about the situation.”

Koss’s approach in the field is elite, but he needs some work offensively. He hit .260 at Portland last season with 17 homers, but wasn’t able to lay off pitches outside the zone, walking in just 4.7 percent of plate appearances and striking out in 25.8.

“I think last year I just caught myself edging on the shadow with the pitcher more, and it gave them more power to get me to chase off the plate,” Koss said. “A lot of the spring is just trying to dial it back in over the plate and get good swings off.”

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Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him @byJulianMack.