In the last two months, Xander Bogaerts has scorched through Double A Portland, was promoted to Pawtucket, made his second All-Star Futures Game, and further solidified his status as the Red Sox’ next big thing.
The wild success he’s seen at just 20 years old has only heightened the speculation and anticipation about when the shortstop could make his major league debut. Not even a logjam on the left side of the Red Sox’ infield can temper the excitement over the franchise’s top prospect.
“He’s exciting when he gets in the box,” said PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina. “There’s no doubt. He can do damage.”
But there’s still some refining to be done and Bogaerts’s stint with the PawSox has been like finishing school for a player that’s universally accepted as the future of the organization.
He’s hit seven home runs in 30 games with Pawtucket after hitting six in 56 games in Portland. But his .262 average in Triple A shows the adjustments he has to make at the plate.
In his first 10 games with the PawSox, Bogaerts smacked three home runs but hit just .205 (8 for 39). He played cat-and-mouse with pitchers, winning the initial battle but failing to adjust to their changes in his following plate appearances.
“He went into a survival mode,” DiSarcina said. “They would pitch him hard and in early and soft away. Then they kind of adjusted to him when he started making his adjustments, you know, 3-1 breaking ball, 2-0 changeup, and he’s swinging and missing, weak contact.”
Bogaerts has had to grow in the field as well. He’s always excelled at turning the double play — he turned 50 last year between Single A Salem and Portland, and he’s turned 24 this season in Pawtucket. But he’s also prone to errors, committing six already in Pawtucket after making nine in Double A this season.
“He’s made some really nice plays at short, he’s made some errors at short,” DiSarcina said. “He’s played like a 20-year-old kid. The consistency’s not there yet as far as being there every day.
“You look at Stephen Drew. He’s a perfect example. Stephen plays the hell out of shortstop. That’s because he’s consistent. Like any 20-year-old, I think what [Bogaerts] is going through is he doesn’t know where to play these guys position-wise. He’s got to learn charts, he’s got to learn tendencies. It’s been a learning process.”
What’s helped Bogaerts is his composure, DiSarcina said.
“One of the major things I’ve been really happy about Xander with is his ability to stay calm and remain confident late in games,” explained the manager. “He’s turned a bunch — four or five — of double plays the seventh, eighth, ninth inning on. Six-four-threes, which for a young kid, it’s tough to do. To remain calm, especially when he’s 0 for 3, he wants to get hits.”
In July, Bogaerts is hitting .302 (13 for 43) with three homers and 10 RBIs.
“He’s held his own,” DiSarcina said. “Very similar to how he is in the field is the same way we’ve seen him at the plate. It’s not steady, it’s up and down. He’ll have one really good at-bat, then he’ll come to the plate and he’ll be swinging at a slider in the dirt, put it in play, out. It’s just been a wide range.”
While Bogaerts isn’t a finished product, the work he continues to put in at Pawtucket will help smooth the last few rough edges.
“He’s on his way,” DiSarcina said. “He’s got to be polished up. There’s no doubt. But he’s on his way.”
He showed drive
Mike deMaine, who has been general manager of the Single A Greenville Drive since their inaugural year in 2006, will resign at the end of the season.
Team owner Craig Brown will being looking for his replacement this month and deMaine will assist in the transition.
DeMaine played a big role in making the Drive an attraction. The team has been in the top five in attendance among South Atlantic League teams in four of the past five seasons.
“Mike has made a tremendous impact on the success of the organization,” Brown said in a statement. “He helped create the Drive brand, open our award-winning ballpark, and develop legacy events like the Reedy River Rivalry game. His impact on our organization will be felt for many years.”
Three to watch
Henry Ramos, Salem: Drafted in the fifth round in 2010 largely because of his power potential, the 21-year-old outfielder hit just 16 home runs in his first three professional seasons. But after blasting a pair of homers against Frederick Wednesday, he’s tied for the team lead with 11. He’s hitting .328 with four homers and 12 RBIs in July.
Aneury Tavarez, Greenville: The 21-year-old outfielder has raised his season average to .263 with a strong July. In a dozen games Tavarez is hitting .341 with five multihit outings. With seven stolen bases he’s increased his team-leading total to 19.
Kevin Mager, Lowell: Signed last summer as an undrafted free agent, the 24-year-old third baseman is making the most of his opportunity with the Spinners, hitting .305 in his first 27 games with five doubles, 12 RBIs, and 40 total bases. He went 3 for 4 in last Saturday’s 5-4 win over Jamestown.
Just as his bat was starting to heat up, Greenville outfielder Drew Turocy landed on the disabled list with a lower-back injury. Turocy, a 24th-round pick in 2011, was hitting .378 (14 for 37) in July . . . The home/road splits for Salem outfielder Keury De La Cruz are dramatically lopsided. In 45 home games he’s hitting .351 with 46 RBIs. In 48 games away from LewisGale Field he’s hitting just .224 with 23 RBIs. Still, he’s tied for the RBI lead in the Carolina League . . . After being promoted from Salem Tuesday, 23-year-old righthander Kyle Kraus, a seventh-round pick in 2012, pitched four scoreless innings in his Portland debut, a 5-1 loss to New Hampshire. He twice retired Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was on rehab assignment. Before Garin Cecchini’s two-out homer in the sixth inning, the Sea Dogs had gone 333 at-bats without a long ball.