Xander Bogaerts was one of just two 19-year-old position players deemed worthy of an assignment to the High-A Carolina League to start this season. Not only did the highly regarded Red Sox prospect prove that he belonged at that level; he actually outperformed it, resulting in a promotion on Thursday from Salem to Double-A Portland. He is the only 19-year-old currently in the Eastern League.
"He's done a great job there [and] has all season," said Sox farm director Ben Crockett of Bogaerts' performance in Salem. "At this point, about a month left in the season, [we] felt it was the right time to push him up, coming off a streak of really good performance over the last week or 10 days. I thought it was the right time to go."
Bogaerts put up numbers that ranked among the best in the Carolina League this year. In 104 games, the shortstop out of Aruba hit .302 with a .378 OBP, .505 slugging mark, .883 OPS, 15 homers and 64 RBI, all numbers that ranked among the top 10 in the league. After an up-and-down first two months of the year, he dominated over the last two-plus months, hitting .340 with a .427 OBP, .593 slugging mark, 1.020 OPS and 11 homers in his last 55 games, and Carolina League observers suggest that his considerable power totals were held down by the enormous dimensions of the park in which he played, which tended to turn opposite-field launches into doubles rather than homers.
"I think a lot of it is just making the adjustments to the pitching he was facing, seeing more off-speed," said Crockett. "You have to continue to do that as you go up, see more off-speed in fastball counts. He was probably kind of dealing with the reputation he created for himself last year by putting up pretty good numbers in Greenville, making himself a target. Tried to do a little too much early on and made a pretty nice adjustment over the course of the year."
The teenager's performance, coupled with tremendous off-field maturity, helped to convince the Sox to move him up the ladder.
"Not only the game and his abilities, but also his personality, character, ability to handle such a promotion to that level at that age, made him a candidate for it," said Crockett. "Nineteen in Double-A is a pretty unusual thing.
"He's certainly shown that he outperformed the level. Based on the way he's carrying himself and his mental readiness for that step, we felt like now was the time," he added. "To make the quick progression hemade from the DSL to extended last year, where we were, 'Boy, we're pretty excited about what we saw in spring training this year,' but trying to put it in context, not wanting to move too quickly at 18. He didn't show a lot of need to be as hesitant as we were to start the year. He was ready to move on."
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