Xander Watch Final Update

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With a 4-1 defeat last night at the hands of the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands were bounced from the World Baseball Classic. For Red Sox fans, that means that prized prospect and Dutch citizen Xander Bogaerts will return to spring training for the duration of March.

The first order of business will be determining which spring camp Bogaerts will be heading to. He finished last season playing for Portland and will likely begin there this season, however, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE; John Farrell would like to see Bogaerts get some at bats with the big league club in Fort Myers. There are still plenty of players in the Sox camp who will not be on the opening day roster, so it makes sense to add Bogaerts to the group even if he is not competing for a spot.

However the timing might be perfect for the 20-year-old infielder. Projected everyday shortstop Stephen Drew has recently been ruled out of playing on opening day because of concussion like symptoms, and shortstop of the future Jose Iglesias has had a lackluster spring at the plate (batting just .220). Bogaerts played 3B for the Netherlands in the WBC, but Farrell thinks, “He’s still, in our eyes, a shortstop.”

If Bogaerts can enter camp and string together a few good games at the position, he could play himself into a big role in this organization very early in the 2013 campaign.

 

Xander Watch Update #4

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Xander (left) celebrating a win

Xander Watch was in full effect early this morning as the Netherlands faced off with Cuba in an elimination game. This was the first game of the tournament in which Xander Bogaerts didn’t get the starting nod. When I learned of this fact, at 6 am in the morning, I nearly fell immediately back to sleep. However I decided to stay up and watch the game anyway; what a good decision that ended up being.

In a back and forth affair that could be argued as the best WBC game so far this year, the two combatants were tied heading into the seventh inning. That’s when Bogaerts was taken off the bench and put into the game. In the bottom of the seventh, he batted with 2 men on and 2 men out. It was an almost impossible situation for someone to enter the game cold and give their team a lift, which was made even more impossible by the nasty sliders he kept receiving.

A Xander strikeout ended the inning. He would return to the dish once more in the bottom of the ninth, again with 2 men on base but this time with 1 out. With the fast turf in Tokyo, it would have been hard for Bogaerts to drive in the slow, 75 year old, Andruw Jones on second with a single. He would have to move him over to third without recording an out, to leave the sacrifice fly in play. After going down 0-2 in the count, he battled his way back and ended up looping a single into right field that did just that. The very next batter hit a game winning, walk-off, sacrifice fly.

This was by far Xander’s biggest hit of the tournament. It’s good to see he can come off the bench and make such a large impact, which is most likely going to be the role he’s assigned when he finally makes his way to Fenway. He even got some love from a fellow top prospect. Things are looking bright for the future of the Sox.

Jackie Bradley Jr. congratulates another rising young star

Jackie Bradley Jr. congratulates another rising young star

Xander Watch Update #3

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Source: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac

Since the last update, Xander Bogaerts and the team from the Netherlands have been surviving. In their final Pool B game against Australia, Holland earned a 4-1 victory. Bogaerts showed he could help his team in multiple ways with plays like a sacrifice bunt to move two players over in the third and a lead off double in the eighth. This win pushed Holland through to the next round on a run differential tiebreaker with Korea.

Round 2 began with the Netherlands playing the role of underdog against Cuba. For the second time in as many rounds, the Dutch began play with an upset. They defeated the Cubans 6-2, with Bogaerts again reaching base by way of the bunt. We’re starting to get a feel for what kind of player he could be, and the speedster/small ball type infielder is one the Sox haven’t had in a while.

That win put the Netherlands in a position to clinch a trip to the final four in San Francisco, if only they could beat Japan this morning in Tokyo. What they got instead was a drubbing. Bogaerts didn’t even bat until Japan was up 6-0 in the second. The next time he was scheduled to bat, he was pinch hit for with an 11 run deficit. Japan went on to mercy rule the Netherlands.

Now it all comes down to one more final game against Cuba. Win and your in the final four, lose and it’s all over. Once again, the Netherlands will be huge underdogs. I’m interested to see what Sox fans think about this; would you rather have Bogaerts done with the WBC and back in Fort Myers, or do you want to see him on the big stage in San Francisco?

Xander Watch Update #2

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Full disclosure, I didn’t actually get a chance to watch any of this game. MLB Network decided to broadcast the Japan/Brazil game instead and not even in the dark depths of the Internet could I find a quality Netherlands vs. South Korea stream. Who would have thought? However, I still followed along with the MLB.com box score… at 6:30 in the morning… on a Saturday… I think I need the season to start.

Anyway, a couple quick notes on Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts. He got the start for the Netherlands playing third base and batting sixth. In all Red Sox publications, Bogaerts is listed as a shortstop, however he is still at the point in his career where he can be tried out at multiple positions. In the field he didn’t disappoint. He had several put-aways from the hot corner highlighted by an impressive leaping field and throw that started a crucial double play in the sixth inning. Check out the play here: http://mlb.mlb.com/wbc/2013/video/?content_id=25648301&query=game_pk%3D361259

From the plate, Bogaerts went 0-2 with a walk, however that stat isn’t telling of the impact he truly had. In the second inning, he dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Andruw Jones over from 2nd to 3rd base. Jones would later score the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by the next batter. This run proved to be the difference between the teams as the Netherlands shutout Korea.

Overall, it was a notable debut for a future member of the local nine. The Netherlands return to action tomorrow against group favorite Chinese Taipei at 1:30 am. I’m interested to see how Xander reacts to this bigger stage.

Xander Watch Update #1

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This March, spring training for Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts will occur far away from Fort Myers. By far away, I mean the other side of the world. Bogaerts, an Aruba-born shortstop, will capitalize on his Dutch citizenship by entering the World Baseball Classic as part of the team from the Netherlands.

As the eighth best prospect in all of the minor leagues, according to baseball-reference.com, Xander should get some run with his national club, who begin pool play Saturday at 6:30 against Korea. I should probably mention this, that’s 6:30 am. The reason for the early start time is because all of Pool B will play their games in Taichung, Taiwan. Other pool teams include Korea, Australia, and Chinese Taipei.

Seriously though, who put this schedule together? Three Asian/Oceania teams and the Netherlands? When you consider that Spain and Italy also have a team competing, why did the Netherlands have to get stuck traveling all the way out Taiwan? I’ve got one word for the World Baseball Classic scheduling committee. Maps.

I’m probably just bitter that I’ll have to watch Fenway’s future infielder with half open, blood shot eyes. Doesn’t the World Baseball Classic realize that I just turned 21 and Saturday mornings don’t work for me anymore? Oh well, watching the Sox while I’m half asleep beats watching Sox players who are half asleep (first blog of 2013 and I’m already dropping snarky Adrian Gonzalez comments!).

Good Luck to Xander getting over the jet lag and representing the Red Sox abroad. We’ll be watching.