By Jeff Louderback
The Boston sports media is touting what has been written for months on BoSox Banter – Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley sure know how to play baseball.
In an 11-1 Red Sox victory over Boston College on Thursday, the 20-year-old Bogaerts and the 22-year-old Bradley were in the lineup.
Bogaerts, who has played shortstop in the Red Sox farm system and could remain there or move to third base or left field, appeared at the hot corner, where he will play for The Netherlands in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Bradley, who is the heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury, patrolled center field.
Against Boston College, Bogaerts was 1-for-4 with a double and was robbed of extra bases when BC left fielder Travis Ferick made a leaping catch of a liner. Bradley doubled and lined out two.
Both prospects are expected to be impact players at the plate and in the field. Bradley projects as a leadoff hitter while Bogaerts will be a middle of the order bat.
Bradley, who employs a unique pre-game routine during batting practice he terms as power shagging (when he runs at full speed tracking down fly balls), is highly regarded for his work ethic and hustle.
In the BC game, Bradley lofted a wind-blown pop up down the third base line that dropped in and was called foul. Yet he sprinted out of the batter’s box and was standing on second when the ball was ruled foul.
Bradley and Bogaerts are both high-ceiling prospects who play the game the right way and bring energy to the ballpark.
Entering the 2013 season, Bogaerts is widely regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball. I am a columnist for Baseball News Source, and in my Top 10 Prospects List for 2013, I ranked the Aruba native No. 7 overall. Other outlets followed suit, including Baseball America, which tabbed him at No. 7.
Bradley was ranked No. 31 while right-handed starting pitchers Matt Barnes (40) and Allen Webster (49), and left-handed starting pitcher Henry Owens (91) were also included on the BA list.
This is an exciting time for the Red Sox minor league system because of the numerous high-ceiling prospects, most of whom are at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.
Bogaerts and Bradley are difference makers who will likely make their Major League debuts in 2014, but if their rapid development continues, they could help the Red Sox at some point this year.