The similarities are apparent.
Xander Bogaerts is a 22-year-old shortstop with power who bats from the right side. He’s also tall, slender and full of offensive potential. In many ways, Bogaerts resembles a younger version of Hanley Ramirez, who last week signed a four-year contract with the Boston Red Sox reportedly worth $88 million.
“Hanley was wiry back then, filled out obviously, but Xander fit that description,” Red Sox first base/outfield coach Arnie Beyeler recently told The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, pointing to Ramirez’s time in the Dominican Summer League in 2001. “But that’s a good analogy.”
The two players obviously are at different points in their careers. Ramirez is about to turn 31 and shift from shortstop to left field with Boston, while Bogaerts is about to enter his second full major league season. But the Red Sox wouldn’t mind seeing Bogaerts follow Ramirez’s career trajectory. The 10-year veteran has three All-Star selections, a batting title and three top 10 MVP finishes on his resume.
“I hope Xander becomes the hitter that Hanley has become,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington recently told Cafardo.
Bogaerts hit .240 with 12 homers, 46 RBIs, a .660 OPS and 138 strikeouts during his rookie season in 2014. There were some bright spots, particularly at the beginning and end of the year, but Boston undoubtedly is hoping its former top prospect soon lives up to his potential, much like Ramirez did upon being traded to the Florida Marlins as a 21-year-old back in 2005.
“They are both fun-loving kids who love playing the game,” Beyeler said. “I didn’t see Hanley after the Dominican League, but I remember him as a kid who once he got his chance just did things better than everyone else. He ran better, threw better, hit better. It was easy to see that he was going to develop into a very good baseball player. And you see the same things with Xander.”
Bogaerts and Ramirez will have their careers cross paths starting this season. They might even be a perfect combination to help the Red Sox return to contender status after a disappointing 2014.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images