One of baseball’s elite prospects in any ranking, the 21 year old Aruban has a high probability of starting somewhere on the left side of Boston’s infield in 2014. Bogaerts will carry dual eligibility into 2014 thanks to six games started at both shortstop and third base last season . Bogaerts’ playing time would be threatened if Stephen Drew return to Beantown and a three man rotation including Will Middlebrooks is the most likely outcome. Assuming that scenario means betting against Scott Boras drumming up a multi-year contract, however.
Long term Bogaerts compares to the best offensive shortstops in the game, but he is not a finished product yet. Against higher-level competition his offense waned. He carried an ISO near .200 through Double-A before it dropped to .169 in Triple-A. In fifty plate appearances with Boston it was only .114. His 34.4% line drive rate and 16.7% HR/FB ratio hint at his power potential but his batted ball data also reveals inconsistency. His GB/FB ratio was 2.50 and his popup rate was 16.7% showing that pitchers were able to catch him off stride. Examining pitch values, the offering that gave him the most trouble was the cut fastball, a pitch featured far more often and effectively at the major league level.
Bogaerts maintained a strikeout rate below 20% throughout his minor league career, but it swelled to 26.0% with the Red Sox. His walk rate stayed in double digits revealing an approach advanced enough to avoid bottoming out like Starlin Castro did. Bogaerts is regarded as a good baserunner, but he is not a big stolen base threat. He swiped only one bag in 2011 and while he progressed to five and eight in 2012 and 2013, he will not be confused with Everth Cabrera. Projecting more than ten steals would be overly optimistic.
Despite these negatives Bogaerts could be underrated in 2014 redraft fantasy leagues. ESPN ranked him 21st among third basemen and 250th overall, perhaps taking a conservative estimate of his playing time. Both projections released on Fangraphs predict he will produce 100 wRC+, a level reached by only five qualified shortstops in 2013. WEEI.com’s Alex Speier shows that the bust rate of position prospects rated as highly as Bogaerts is relatively low. He deemed only two of eighteen debut seasons “meaningfully below league average”.
While the lack of a standout category skill will keep Bogaerts outside the top five or six fantasy shortstops he should comfortably fit as a starting middle infielder and could break into the top ten at the position.