FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine spent part of his morning rounds watching shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias taking grounders. when he managed the Mets, Valentine had Rey Ordonez (the offensively deficient, three-time Gold Glover) to whom Iglesias is often compared. Defensively, Valentine's initial glimpse suggested that such praise for Iglesias' defense had merit.
"My first impression ... is that he can catch it. I bet you he can throw it after he catches it, too," Valentine said of Iglesias. "I did see similarities with Rey Ordonez in ball-glove action. Initially, it looked like he had more range than Rey."
While there are no questions about the excellence of Iglesias' glove, however, like Ordonez, there are questions about the 22-year-old's offense. Ordonez had the lowest career OPS (.600) of any player with at least 3,000 plate appearances in the last 20 years. A year ago, as a 21-year-old in Triple-A, Iglesias had the worst OPS (.554) of anyone in the International League while hitting .235 with a .285 OBP.
Asked whether the Sox could afford to receive no offense from their starting shortstop in the AL East, Valentine acknowledged, "Probably not. My fast brain says, probably not." (The "fast brain" reference was to Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow.")
"I didn’t do a very good job of developing Rey into an offensive player. Maybe I can learn from what I didn’t do. That was a challenge to get offensive production out of Rey Ordonez," said Valentine. "Rey wasn’t a very receptive person. Rey didn’t adapt or receive well. It seems that Jose would be a little different than that."
The Ordonez experience was an interesting one to consider for Valentine, given the extreme defensive contribution he made and the extreme hole he created in the lineup. Even now, Valentine did not have a definitive conclusion about Ordonez's value.
"It was a struggle and I think it hurt us and his defense might have helped us. I’m not sure. I bet it did," Valentine mused. "I didn’t have a lot of alternatives."
Asked whether he could be convinced to live with any offensive limitations Iglesias might have as he continues his development, Valentine was non-commital, noting that he doesn't yet know the young shortstop.
"It’s a different world, a different situation," said Valentine. "Would I do the same thing with Jose? It’s a different world."
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