Let’s Not Overhype Red Sox Prospect Xander Bogaerts
The team annoyed some by calling up Will Middlebrooks instead of the hot new prospect.
The Red Sox surprised some and disappointed others over the weekend by delaying the call up of phenom-to-be Xander Bogaerts, instead promoting phenom-who-was Will Middlebrooks to fill the teamâ€™s hole at third base.
The projections for Bogaerts are certainly promisingâ€”he has been hailed as possibly the next Hanley Ramirez (no, better!), or this year’s version of Manny Machado. Hey, maybe he’s both! Compare that to known entity Middlebrooks and you get analysis like that of NESN’s Ricky Doyle:
Bogaerts [...] might be a wild card, but he comes with the greatest potential reward. Itâ€™s not that Middlebrooks is incapable of giving the Red Soxâ€™ offense a boost. Itâ€™s just that Bogaerts figures to be a truly special player, and thereâ€™s nothing that indicates he wouldnâ€™t make an immediate impact, whereas there is information that suggests Middlebrooks could struggle.
The problem with projections, particularly for prospects who carry the hype of Bogaerts, is that they are so often best-case-scenario driven. Of course, if/when called up, Bogaerts could give the Red Sox a Machado-like boost (seven home runs in 51 games, .262 batting average, strong defense), but he could just as easilyâ€”and arguably more likely wouldâ€”fail to make an impact, play a reserve role when the roster is expanded to 40 players in September, and be left off the Red Sox playoff roster.
Even â€ścanâ€™t missâ€ť prospects (plenty of whom have still managed to miss, by the way) struggle in their first big league stints. Look no further than Jurickson Profar, the Texas Rangersâ€™ 20-year-old shortstop, who many talent evaluators rated as the best prospect in the game entering the 2013 season. In 230 plate appearances over the past two seasons, Profar is hitting .238 with 14 total extra base hits (five home runs). Profar remains the best prospect at his position and, at age 20, is younger than many players who will be taken in next yearâ€™s draft. Thus far, however, he has not ignited Texas or shown that he should be in the lineup as the Rangers make a stretch run to secure a playoff spot. None of this should be taken as an indictment of Profarâ€”few 20-year olds take the league by storm. And thatâ€™s the point.
Expecting Bogaerts to be anything more than a rotational playerâ€”much less pinning any part of the Red Soxâ€™s postseason success on himâ€”would be a mistake. For every Machado or Wil Myers, there are as many, if not more, players whoâ€”despite tremendous potentialâ€”are not Major League ready when they are first called up. The Red Sox last great shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra, who is being used by some as a stand-in by which to measure Bogaertâ€™s potential greatness, hit .241 in 93 plate appearancesâ€”albeit with a .743 OPSâ€”as a late-season call up in 1996. Examining Nomarâ€™s first Major League season and the inaugural performances of Red Sox players past and present, the Providence Journalâ€™s Brian MacPherson offered cooling words for fans who are expecting too much too soon from Bogaerts.
To MacPhersonâ€™s point, it wasnâ€™t too long ago that Jackie Bradley Jr. was anointed the Red Soxâ€™s Future. Letâ€™s take a pitch or two before we declare the same about Xander Bogaerts.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/08/13/lets-not-overhype-red-sox-prospect-xander-bogaerts/