Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. were penciled in to the Sox’ starting nine, with Bradley playing center field and batting third and Bogaerts playing third base and batting sixth. Each doubled in the contest as Boston cruised to an 11-1 victory over its collegiate foe, and manager John Farrell couldn’t help but enjoy what he saw from the organization’s two top prospects.
“A little bit of a glimpse into the future,” a smiling Farrell told reporters after the game. “I thought [Bogaerts] played easily at third… and the one play that Bradley had [in the outfield], we were able to quickly see what everyone else has raved about. And the precision to his route and jumps was impressive.”
Expectations are extremely high for Bogaerts and Bradley. Both players were listed on MLB.com’s recent Top 100 Prospects list — Bogaerts ranked 20th and Bradley checked in at No. 32. ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranked Bogaerts and Bradley No. 5 and No. 40, respectively, on his major league prospects list for 2013. Regardless of either player’s exact ranking, however, it’s clear we’re talking about two premier minor league talents, which is why there will continue to be a buzz swirling around the duo until they reach the big club in Boston.
It’s very unlikely that Bogaerts or Bradley will start the year in the majors, as they’ll likely be sent down when Boston finalizes its Opening Day roster at the end of spring training. A more likely scenario is that we’ll see them arrive in September when rosters expand or in 2014. That doesn’t mean it’s too early to analyze what happens this spring, though, as their presence among the organization’s big league veterans could prove to be beneficial.
“The fact that they’re in here, in this environment and around the current everyday players at the big league level, but also getting familiar with us as a coaching staff — it’s invaluable time and experience that they’re getting here,” Farrell said Thursday.
Bogaerts will soon be stepping away from club, as he’ll be playing in the World Baseball Classic as a member of Team Netherlands. While Bogaerts has been a shortstop during his time in the Boston system, he is expected to play third base in the WBC. It’s a position that some scouts envision Bogaerts will eventually transition to full time, although shortstops with such offensive potential are extremely rare and his value is thus higher at his natural position.
The 20-year-old understands there’s an adjustment period that comes with changing positions, even if it’s just a temporary switch.
“I just had two days of getting grounders at third. Not yet comfortable, but it’s just for the meantime, for the WBC. Then I’ll be back at short.” Bogaerts said. “It went good. I didn’t make an error, so I’m pretty happy about that. It went good, great experience.”
As for Bradley, his position looks set in stone. The 22-year-old’s range and quick first step are why he could become an elite defensive major league center fielder, and why some suspect he’ll be Jacoby Ellsbury‘s successor if Ellsbury elects to leave via free agency after this season. Bradley’s overall effort is what will likely make him a fan favorite around Boston, though.
“You always want to do the right thing, especially hustling at all times. You don’t want to take any plays off. That time you take a play off, they’re going to see it,” Bradley after Thursday’s game. “Hustling, backing up plays and just showing them that you want to play hard.”
Playing hard is something Red Sox fans always have and always will appreciate. Players who hustle and have all of the physical tools to be great — like Bogaerts and Bradley — are something worth getting excited about.
Xander Bogaerts photo (left) via Facebook/Xander Bogaerts