Xander BogaertsXander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. both figure to begin the 2013 season in the minors. There’s a good chance they’ll stay there for the entire season, but we’ve seen in the past how circumstances can change throughout the course of a 162-game season.

The Red Sox endured plenty of injuries last season, and while they hope that isn’t the case this year, you simply never know when an unfortunate turn of events could thrust one of the team’s farmhands into big league action sooner than expected. The Sox would definitely love for Bogaerts and Bradley to get some more seasoning before making the jump to the majors, but perhaps it isn’t outside that realm of possibility that one or both could arrive in Boston at some point this season.

If the injury bug bites, the Red Sox may elect to go in a different direction before turning to their two prized prospects. Even so, baseball’s September roster expansion provides another opportunity for Bogaerts or Bradley to get their first taste of big league action. If they do get called up, the focus then turns to which one could make an immediate impact.

Bogaerts, a 20-year-old shortstop, was ranked the No. 8 prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He hit .326 (30-for-92) with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 23 games with Double-A Portland last season. Prior to that, he hit .302 with 15 home runs and 64 RBIs in 104 games with High-A Salem. His bat is clearly his biggest strength, and many scouts expect him to become a future big league All-Star because of his plate presence.

Bradley, who turns 23 in April, was rated the No. 31 prospect for 2013 by Baseball America. Perhaps he could arrive in the majors sooner rather than later, though, not only because he’s older than Bogaerts, but also because there’s some uncertainty surrounding the future of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Bradley hit .315 with nine home runs and 63 RBIs split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2012. He also swiped 24 bags, and his defense is what has scouts drooling.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Thursday’s exhibition against Northeastern that we got a “glimpse into the future” by watching Bogaerts and Bradley. The question is when exactly will that future arrive, and one has to wonder who will have the bigger impact when it finally does.

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