BOSTON — Nice going, Xander.
Xander Bogaerts burst onto the scene with the Boston Red Sox in 2013, perhaps paving the way for a starting shortstop job in 2013. The 21-year-old’s incredible first impression, however, also ensured that the rookie won’t be fooling anyone in 2014 — something Jonny Gomes joked about at Wednesday’s Red Sox town hall event at Northeastern University.
“Yeah, he screwed it all up by coming out that hot. He really did. He ain’t sneaking up on anyone,” Gomes said. “We’re going to walk in Opening Day at home in interleague [play], and [the Milwaukee Brewers] are going to know who he is. It’s tough at his age. But I’ve always said, it’s hard to be good. It’s hard because you’re going to get that pitcher’s best, you’re going to get that team’s best scouting report. As soon as you’re ready to cross over and be good, then be great, it’s tough to stay up there. He’s got to be ready for that, too.”
Bogaerts turned heads while climbing the ranks of the Red Sox’ minor league system, but his breakout performance in the postseason gave Boston a taste of what the Aruba native is all about. Bogaerts, who supplanted a struggling Will Middlebrooks as the Red Sox’ starting third baseman in October, hit .296 (8-for-27) with a .412 on-base percentage and nine runs scored in 12 playoff games. Now, with Bogaerts likely shifting back to his natural position to be the Red Sox’ everyday shortstop in 2014, it’s up to Boston’s top prospect to continue his upward trend.
“He’s got all the tools in the world. What I was able to get out of him was his head, his approach, the kind of guy he is. Truly second to none,” Gomes said. “Mental side isn’t really a tool on the five-tool player, but I mean, he covers a lot from that. Being good, being polite, being respectful of the veterans, I don’t care about all that. I’m watching your love for the game, love for the organization, the will to want to win, the will to want to get better, and I mean, he was across the board straight A’s.”
With straight A’s comes recognition. The rest of Major League Baseball surely will take notice of Bogaerts in 2014.