Whether it was a high-profile loss to the Yankees on Sunday Night or because they're looking for a Puig-ian jump-start, the Red Sox have announced that they have called up top prospect Xander Bogaerts, reports Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. It's the second promotion for Bogaerts this season, who began the year at Double-A but has been in Triple-A Pawtucket since mid-June.
Bogaerts, naturally a shortstop, has played some third base while at Pawtucket and it remains to be seen how he is used by the Red Sox. Many scouts believed that Bogaerts would outgrow shortstop defensively as he moved through the minor leagues, and there are some who still think that his final destination is at the hot corner, but for now, he appears to be capable of manning both spots.
That versatility gives the Red Sox options. With Will Middlebrooks struggling at the plate, Bogaerts could see the lion's share of his at-bats at third base, but shortstop Stephen Drew doesn't exactly have a death grip on the playing time at shortstop, and struggles mightily against left-handed pitching. If the Red Sox choose to play Bogaerts on a regular basis (a likely scenario if they are calling him up at this point in the season), then they could have Drew and Middlebrooks enter into a platoon situation with Bogaerts shifting back and forth from short to third, depending on the matchup.
Offensively, Bogaerts is known for his plus-power, which is among the best in the minor leagues, but he is more than just a free-swinging masher. Despite being a power hitter, Bogaerts doesn't strike out a ton, and he has improved his discipline at the plate this season. Whether because his eye is improving or because opposing pitchers are being more careful with him as his reputation expands, Bogaerts has shown a willingness to take what pitchers give him and take first base if that turns out to be nothing.
Bogaerts is still just 20-years-old, and despite the recent exploits of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, no one should expect Bogaerts to come in and be the savior of the Red Sox one-game lead in the AL East. Still, given his track record in the upper levels of the minors, there's no reason he can't be an improvement over Middlebrooks or Drew, offensively.
There were be some growing pains, however, especially in the field. Even those who believe Bogaerts can remain at shortstop cite the fact that he's not a plus defender there, unable to ignore the 19 errors he's made in 96 games there this season. At third base, he's inexperienced, having played just 10 games there as a professional, plus some limited work during the World Baseball Classic. In time, Bogaerts could turn into a find defender, but in the present, it's the most raw part of his game and will have to be something the Red Sox are willing to trade off on for his bat.
Which they will likely do. Bogaerts bat is special, and even with just a half-season of Triple-A experience under his belt, he's likely ready to contribute. A pennant race may not be the ideal time to throw him into the mix, but the Red Sox have a battle in front of them in the AL East and Middlebrooks is not getting the job done.