Normally, the Portland Sea Dogs update runs on Thursday. Technical issues made this difficult last week, however, so this week there will be two Sea Dogs updates to get things back on track. The first of these is the one you are reading right now, while a second on three different players, as per usual, will run Thursday.
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Xander Bogaerts started out somewhat slow, which, given his top prospect status, of course caused some minor panic. He exploded shortly after that, though, and brought his line way up to where it should have been in the first place. Of late, he's slowed down a bit, hitting just .270/.378/.351 in his last 10 games, but there is plenty to appreciate in that. Remember, when Bogaerts was at Double-A to end 2012, he just didn't draw walks. He hit for power, yes, but you knew eventually, when pitchers started to adjust to his impatience, he was going to need to adjust right back. That seems to be happening, as he's drawn a walk 11 percent of the time in 2013. You'd like the strikeout rate to go down, but he's still just 20 -- there's time for that yet,. If a few more strikeouts is the present-day price to get his plate discipline in working order for the high-minors, then so be it.
Bogaerts now has 258 total plate appearances at the level, with a .305/.362/.502 line and 28 extra-base hits. As said, there's work to be done in terms of cutting down strikeouts and keeping his walk rate elevated as it has been to this point in 2013, but you have to like what he's done given his age and rapid rise through the system. Remember, too, that he didn't bust out at High-A until a little later in the season: things could change for him in a hurry, in a good way, but even if they don't he's making progress already.
Christian Vazquez was not major-league ready when the season began, but it wasn't because of his defense. His arm is one of the most obvious points to make in that regard, as he's thrown out 49 percent of runners at Double-A, against the league average 33 percent. There's more to his defense than just his arm, of course, as he's an exceptional backstop, but that number just pops.
His offense is still a work-in-progress, but it's hard to complain about what he's accomplished in his first 27 games. Vazquez struggled upon his initial promotion to Double-A in 2012, but the .205/.280/.260 line has been pushed aside by his current production, in which he's walked more times than he's struck out, and shown just enough pop behind the plate to keep him interesting when paired with his defense. Just 22, and not quite finished with the Eastern League, Vazquez still has room to grow. If what he grows into is a high-OBP catcher with plus defense, though, then future Red Sox pitchers will be thrilled for multiple reasons.
Travis Shaw, 1B
As is usual with Travis Shaw, walks and on-base percentage are not a problem. The strikeouts aren't quite where they need to be just yet, but he's improved on them from last year, in which he punched out 28 percent of the time after his promotion to Double-A. He could stand to collect a few more hits, but, barring that, he just needs more pop from those he does get -- the walks aren't going to keep coming if pitchers feel like they can challenge him.
Luckily, he's come around a bit of late with power, hitting .282/.333/.538 with two homers and five extra-base hits in his last 10 games. There is a happy balance to be found, where he gives up a few walks, trading them in for the aggression that allows him to capitalize on mistakes with authority. He hasn't found it yet, but he has plenty of time left to get there this year before he's a 24-year-old first baseman still in Double-A.
Read more Red Sox:
- What's wrong with Jacoby Ellsbury?
- Daniel Bard walks five, sinks further, Juan Nieves concerned
- Keith Law’s mock draft says Ryne Stanek to the Red Sox
- Jonathan Papelbon: Should’ve kept?
- Ben Cherington’s Closer-trade addiction