Xander Bogaerts, SS
I'm not sure, but I think Xander Bogaerts might have figured out Double-A pitching. He's now up to .310/.404/.510 in a league where he's four years younger than your average hitter, with an OPS nearly 200 points higher than theirs. He's at .485/.617/.970 in his last 10 games with four homers, four doubles, and 12 walks against three strikeouts. If Bogaerts doesn't change the difficulty to All-Madden soon, Eastern League pitching is going to rage quit.
If Jose Iglesias stays in the majors once Will Middlebrooks returns from the disabled list -- and this is becoming more likely with each successful Iglesias moment paired against anything Pedro Ciriaco has been doing -- then there is all of a sudden a wide-open spot for Bogaerts at short on the Triple-A roster. That's the last real test for the majors, and if he can get there in his age-20 season, then we're looking at a pretty fantastic rise through the system. No wonder Baseball America has been heaping praise on him.
Vazquez actually hasn't been as bad lately as the drop in his line might make you think -- it's mostly a batting average issue. He's hit just .162 over his last 10 games, but has drawn seven walks (.295 on-base) against just three punch outs, and has also posted a .216 Isolated Power in this stretch, courtesy three doubles, a triple, and a home run. There are far worse .162 stretches to suffer, that's for sure.
Still, you'd like that batting average to climb, even if it doesn't seem to be hurting his on-base percentage any. That batting average on balls in play of his has just died at Double-A, though, as he posted a .231 mark last year in 20 games, and is at .257 this year over 150 plate appearances. Both are small samples, and the more important thing is that he's avoiding strikeouts and managing to hit for some pop for a catcher. If he can boost that BABIP even 25-30 points, there would be much more excitement around this 22-year-old backstop with superb defensive skills.
Travis Shaw, 1B
The same BABIP excuses cannot be made for Travis Shaw. He's whiffing over 23 percent of the time, and while his on-base percentage also looks solid, he's hitting for less power than his teammate, the catcher, who has concerns surrounding his bat. Shaw is at .150/.261/.150 over his last 10 games -- see, we told you there are worse stretches -- and it's dragged his line down even further.
His career numbers still look good, but those who were getting the Lars Anderson concerns with Shaw probably aren't feeling much better about that at the moment. He needs to cut down on the strikeouts a bit, and focus his approach at the plate so that some of those pitches he sits on turn into hard-hit balls, rather than just balls. He's got time, but still, you'd prefer he turn it around sooner than later.
Read more Red Sox:
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