Xander Bogaerts ‘Humbled’ By Comparisons to Hanley Ramirez, Hopes to Stay at Shortstop


Sep 23, 2012

Xander Bogaerts 'Humbled' By Comparisons to Hanley Ramirez, Hopes to Stay at ShortstopBOSTON — Xander Bogaerts is aware of the comparisons.

Two years into his pro career, the 19-year-old prospect is regarded as a younger version of Hanley Ramirez. With his 6-foot-3, 175-pound physique, the shortstop has annihilated pitchers in the minors, drilling 20 homers and 81 RBIs in the 2012 season.

Bogaerts' power numbers — compiled in stints in Single-A Salem and Double-A Greenville — and skill set are comparable to Ramirez, a former Red Sox farmhand. But being lumped into Ramirez's class alone is music to Bogaerts' ears.

"Derek Jeter and Hanley Ramirez are my favorite ballplayers," Bogaerts told NESN.com in Spanish. "So I'm humbled by the comparisons to Hanley because [the front office] — these guys know baseball and the intricacies of it, so if they view me in that light, I'm really proud of that."

There's also speculation the Red Sox could convert Bogaerts into a third baseman — like Ramirez did for the Marlins this season — or an outfielder. Based on his physique, it would be a natural transition.

While Bogaerts trusts the organization's vision for his future, he is also committed to playing shortstop. Over the past offseason, he dedicated time to improving his defense and reducing his errors.

"I'm a shortstop and I don't know any other position," Bogaerts said. "At this point, I've only practiced at shortstop and haven't played any other position."

Bogaerts, of course, understands the business of baseball. Back in March, the Red Sox traded his twin brother, Jair, to the Cubs to complete the compensation package for former general manager Theo Epstein.

The sudden separation from his brother — a catcher — hit him hard.

"When it happened, I cried because we signed together," Bogaerts said. "But it's a business. Maybe over there, there were more opportunities for him and they wanted him. That's what happens."

But Bogaerts overcame the shock and strung together an impressive season, one that earned him Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Red Sox farm system. He was on hand at Fenway Park on Saturday for a pregame ceremony.

It's ironic that Bogaerts received the award, considering he never envisioned himself as a slugger.

"I don't know where this power comes from," Bogaerts said. "Last year in Greenville, I hit 16 home runs, and from then on, I realized I had power. It's not about trying to hit home runs. I'm just putting a good swing on the ball and letting it go wherever it's going to go."

Bogaerts' contributions off the field could be just as valuable his accomplishments on it. Since the youngster speaks four languages — English, Spanish, Papiamento and Dutch — he's able to use those skills to translate messages for teammates and coaches.

"In the clubhouse, I usually speak Spanish, but I'm really cool with everyone," said Bogaerts, who could play for Holland in next year's World Baseball Classic. "I just need to work on my Chinese to work on some of our Chinese teammates, but it's an advantage to speak different languages and I try to help everyone out."

Down the road, he could also wind up helping the Red Sox.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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