FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox used their veteran players in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College. They produced a 3-0 victory that was, outside of some good pitching performances, unremarkable.
Manager John Farrell used a younger lineup against the Eagles. Xander Bogaerts, the organization’s top prospect, batted sixth. Jackie Bradley Jr., a center fielder with great potential, hit third.
Bogaerts was 1 for 4 with a double in an 11-1 victory. Bradley was 1 for 3 with an RBI double.
Bogaerts, 20, is a shortstop. But he started at third base in preparation for his role with the Netherlands in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He handled two ground balls without any problems. One required his going to the backhand and making a long throw.
“Exciting young player,” Farrell said. “Regardless if he’s standing at third or short, he’s a presence in the box. Hard contact. In Game 2, a little bit of a glimpse into the future somewhat.”
Bogaerts will sub in for Will Middlebrooks at third base on Saturday against Tampa Bay then leave for the WBC. The Netherlands starts pool play in Taiwan on March 2. Bogaerts will fly there via New York.
“I’ll probably ask the Red Sox for a sleeping pill or something,” he said.
Bogaerts will return to the Red Sox after the WBC and could appear in a few games before going to minor league camp.
“The Red Sox are my first priority. They gave me the opportunity to go play and I’m thankful for that,” he said. “I’ll be back.”
Bradley’s double was a fly ball that carried to right-center and nearly cleared the fence in the third inning. In the fifth inning, he hit an infield popup and hustled to second base, just in case it fell in.
The ball wasn’t caught, but it was ruled foul. Still, Bradley made an impression on the play.
“You want to always to do the right thing,” he said. “You don’t want to take any plays off. That time you take a play off, they’re going to see it.”
Bradley had to make only one play in center field, tracking down a line drive off the bat of Jimmy Dowdell in the second inning.
“We were able to quickly see what everyone has raved about,” Farrell said. “The precision to his routes and jumps was impressive.”
Bradley, 22, enjoyed being on the field with Bogaerts.
“If we’re both on the same field at the same time up there in the future, that’ll be great. He’s a great player and I’m honored to be playing on the field with him,” Bradley said.
Both Bogaerts and Bradley have handled the attention that comes with being invited to major league camp well.
Bradley played for a two-time NCAA champion at South Carolina and is used to scrutiny. Bogaerts played in the South Atlantic League at 18 and acquitted himself well, posting an .834 OPS. He mixes in with major leaguers effortlessly.
Bradley reminds me a lot of David Wright in terms of his confidence at a young age and the ability to communicate with teammates, coaches, the media, and everybody else he comes in contact with.
Bogaerts is unique in a lot of ways. He is big for a shortstop, hits the ball a ton, speaks four languages, and has a great feel for the nuances of baseball. You do not have to be a professional scout to pick him out of a group of players.
It's exciting to consider what kind of players they could become, but it's also important to note that Bradley has played 61 games at Double A and Bogaerts 23. They still have bridges to cross before being ready for the majors.
Still, as Farrell said, that glimpse of the future was entertaining.