Xander Bogaerts was playing dominoes with some of his Triple-A teammates when he got the call. The Red Sox seem to think that he’s part of their World Series puzzle.
Bogaerts was called up from Pawtucket prior to Monday’s game in San Francisco. It marks Bogaerts’ first stint with the major league club, and the 20-year-old is eager to see what lies ahead.
“[I’m] very excited to be here, to be part of the team right now,” Bogaerts told reporters Monday. “Since I signed, this is what you work hard to become, a major league player. So I’m really excited, a happy day for me, my family and also everyone back at home.”
Bogaerts, a native of Aruba, is the Red Sox’ most highly anticipated prospect in years. He has excelled at every level of the minors, and he’s considered by many scouts to be a future superstar. It was only a matter of time before the Red Sox picked up the phone and summoned their top prospect, although Bogaerts was more focused on continuing his development than worrying about any rankings, projections or other outside noise.
“If you start thinking about those things, I think that’s when the pressure hits you,” Bogaerts said. “If you start feeling it, you’d probably go insane. I try not to think about that stuff and just try to concentrate on baseball. That’s really what I’m about.”
Bogaerts, whose natural position is shortstop, played some third base while at Triple-A and during the World Baseball Classic. It’s likely that he’ll log time at both positions, even though nothing is currently etched in stone.
“Xander comes to us, and he’ll rotate through the left side of the infield,” John Farrell said Monday. “As Ben [Cherington] and I and others talk about our position players coming down the stretch here, trying to build in some scheduled down days, Xander will provide that at shortstop with Stephen [Drew]. The reason we brought Xander was a right-handed bat to complement him. That’s not to say a platoon situation by any means, but with Brock Holt being a left-hander, we thought it was Xander’s time to come here and start his big-league career.”
Holt, who was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Bogaerts, didn’t provide the Red Sox with much offensively. He was hitting a paltry .203 at the time of the move — .111 (1-for-9) against left-handers — and his on-base percentage sat at .275. Between that lack of production and Drew’s .195/.248/.345 slash line against left-handers, it became clear that Bogaerts’ offensive potential from the right side of the plate could help the Red Sox, who have struggled against southpaws of late.
“You’re talking about a young, exciting offensive player — really a very good player all around,” Farrell said. “At 20 years of age, he’s still developing. He is a person in his abilities who will give us a shot in the arm and make an impact here.”
Bogaerts’ true impact could ultimately depend on how much of an opportunity he’s given. Farrell has rewarded players for strong performances this season, though, so it’s up to the young infielder to carve out a bigger role for himself. For now, Bogaerts is simply trying to fit into the Sox’ winning formula.
“I’m just excited to be here and help the team out,” Bogaerts said. “Whatever they ask me to do, I’m ready for it. Hopefully, we win a few games and we clinch the pennant race.”