Xander Bogaerts might not have taken home MVP honors for his performance in Sunday's 2013 Futures Game, but he was impressive nonetheless, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored on a nifty slide past backstop Austin Hedges. The World team standout was selected by Baseball America as the Best Overall Player in their rankings of the contests best.
The way Bogaerts managed both his at-bats and his batting practice rounds were impressive. While several hitters started to swing for the fences and added a little extra uppercut to their swings, Bogaerts stayed within the approach that has made him the No. 4 prospect in baseball.
But Bogaerts' monster offensive potential is no secret. What might get lost is how advanced his instincts are for a 20-year-old, something he showed when he scored from third base on a sacrifice fly in the third inning. Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson fired a strong throw that was only slightly off the mark. As Bogaerts saw catcher Austin Hedges lean to his left to take the throw, Bogaerts quickly swerved inside the baseline and narrowly avoided the tag to score.
Remember, Baseball America isn't looking for the guy who had the game-winning hit, or the best player on the winning team, or any of the normal stuff that gets players single-game or series MVP awards. They're looking for the prospects who best reminded us of why they are so highly regarded in the first place: Bogaerts' heads-up play and ability to stick to his approach on a significant stage was commendable, especially when you consider that his approach is advanced even without the age caveat tossed atop it.
There have already been calls to push Bogaerts up to the majors to take over for Stephen Drew, or to keep Will Middlebrooks from ever coming back at third base. Let's chill on that, though, and just appreciate the fact that there's a 20-year-old prospect with star potential sitting in Triple-A, and Boston doesn't even necessarily need him right now. There will be plenty of time for him to contribute, and there should be no rush to make it happen before it has to.
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