By Jeff Louderback
By 2015, the Red Sox could feature an infield that includes Xander Bogaerts at third, Jose Iglesias at shortstop, Dustin Pedroia at second and Will Middlebrooks at first. What happens this season will determine whether or not that combination unfolds.
The 24-year-old Middlebrooks, who impressed during his rookie campaign last year before a broken wrist ended his season prematurely, is slated to fill the hot corner for Boston in 2013. He could eventually be moved to first to accommodate Bogaerts, who 20-year-old phenom who is widely considered one of the top 10 prospects in baseball entering spring training.
Bogaerts, who has a middle of the order bat and is defensively proficient at shortstop, might be transitioned to third base because of Iglesias, the 22-year-old defensive whiz from Cuba who has yet to prove he can hit Major League pitching but spent an abundance of time with physical conditioning over the offseason to get stronger .
A natural shortstop, Bogaerts is expected to play third base for The Netherlands in the rapidly approaching World Baseball Classic since the team also features Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Like Texas Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar and Baltimore Orioles young phenom Manny Machado (both of whom are natural shortstops, too), Bogaerts has the athleticism to play third base and even the outfield.
Middlebrooks has not played first base as a professional, but he is a pure athlete who was a highly regarded high school quarterback, and he is a plus defensive third baseman. He has the athleticism to move from third base to first base.
If Iglesias does not demontrate the ability to hit enough at the Major League level, the Red Sox could turn to Jose Vinicio or Deven Marrero at shortstop. Both prospects have high ceilings and are proficient in the field and at the plate.
For the aforementioned plan to have a homegrown infield with the exceptional defense of Iglesias at shortstop, he must show improvement at the plate this year.