Spring Training is right around the corner, and the Red Sox have just sent out invites. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll take a look at every position and who Alex Cora and Dave Dombrowski are bringing down to Fort Myers. Today, we’ll take a look at shortstop.
When Xander Bogaerts climbed his way through the Red Sox farm system, he was one of the most highly touted prospects in franchise history.
While the 25-year-old shortstop has been no scrub, with a career batting average of .291 when playing at his natural position, his power numbers have been lacking. His career mark of 13 home runs per 162 games is nothing awful, but he was expected to be a more well-rounded player when he broke into the big leagues.
Despite this, Bogaerts is the unquestioned starting shortstop heading into 2018. Who knows, maybe bringing Alex Cora in to manage the team, who was a shortstop in the majors for 14 years, could help boost his numbers and consistency in the later months of the season.
So if Bogaerts is locked in at the starting spot, who’s next? Well, as I brought up the other day, the Red Sox have no shortage of utility infielders at their disposal down in Fort Myers this Spring Training.
Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Tzu-Wei Lin and Marco Hernandez are all on the 40-man roster, and have all spent time at shortstop with the Sox at some point in the past few seasons. All were guaranteed invites to Spring Training in February, but there likely isn’t room on the Opening Day roster for all of them.
Lin will most likely get the least reps at shortstop, followed by Hernandez. The two of them, in my opinion, should get the most looks at second base due to the immediate need for a short-term solution at the position.
Holt will get sent all over the field, and I’m assuming he’ll get equal time at almost every position. Marrero, while he is in the running for a spot at second, came through the system as a shortstop, and his plus fielding tool there should give him an early edge to be the Opening Day backup heading into the season.
As for non-roster invitees, infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. has experience at shortstop. However, considering he hasn’t played there in two years, I think Dombrowski brought him in mainly as a veteran option for second base.
Esteban Quiroz, a 25-year-old from Mexico, also got the call down to Florida last week. Quiroz began his professional career as a third baseman, and after a year of experimenting at second, he has been used primarily as a shortstop. In his last three seasons playing Mexican ball, he has a .315 batting average and 15 home runs per 162 games.
The young utility man is yet to play in America, but his 5-foot-7 frame and wild fielding style will make him a fun watch in Spring Training. Also, a fun fact for Sox fans, his full name is Jesus Esteban Ortiz Quiroz. Hopefully, he can shock the world and be the next Ortiz to resurrect the Red Sox offense. Don’t expect him to make the roster, but he should be an interesting question mark to keep an eye on.
CJ Chatham, the Red Sox’ No. 12 prospect on SoxProspects.com, did not get the call from Dombrowski last week. Boston’s second-round pick in 2016, Chatham is another guy who took a while to find his position. He was a pitcher in high school, tossing a 96 mph fastball and garnering the attention of major league scouts, but he decided to commit to Florida Atlantic as a left fielder instead.
He was moved to third base before his first season at FAU, and would later be permanently moved to shortstop in his sophomore year. A career .333 hitter in his three years in college, Chatham hit an impressive .316 in an injury shortened season with the Greenville Drive last year, proving that he had the hitting tool to make it at the next level.
The 23-year-old has a unique 6-foot-4 frame and a powerful arm that make him a real threat at shortstop. While it is understandable the Dombrowski wouldn’t want to rush the kid through the system, I think it would have been beneficial for him to get reps with a major league team and face better pitchers at the plate.
The only other true shortstop in the Sox’ farm is 17-years-old Antoni Flores. The Venezuelan specializes in fielding, but considering he hasn’t played any professional baseball since the Sox signed him last July, he had no chance of getting an invite. Also, considering his 6-foot-1 frame and lack of speed, scouts are projecting him to move off of shortstop by the time he progresses through the farm.