Prospect Retrospective: Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs was drafted by the Red Sox in 1976, a 7th round pick in the June draft. Assigned to the New York-Penn League, he hit .263/.370/.296 for Elmira. His OBP was excellent, he drew lots of walks and struck out just 15 times in 179 at-bats, but his power was virtually nil. At this point he would have rated as a Grade C prospect, or a C+ if you're really impressed with his strong BB/K/AB ratio.
Boggs was promoted to the Carolina League in 1977, hitting .332/.425/.382 for Winston-Salem. Again, he showed excellent plate discipline: 65 walks, 22 strikeouts in 422 at-bats. He showed more power (though still not very much), but given his batting average, OBP, and youth (age 19), he'd have to be at least a Grade B prospect at this point.
Promoted to Double-A in '78, Boggs hit .311/.405/.370 for Bristol in the Eastern League, extremely good numbers from a 20-year-old. Again, his plate discipline was excellent: 53 walks, only 25 strikeouts. But the Red Sox didn't seem especially impressed. If I remember correctly, at the time he wasn't considered a hot prospect, due to his lack of power. He returned to Double-A in 1979, hitting .325/.422/.377. Given his age and outstanding plate discipline, I would certainly have rated him at least a Grade B+ prospect both seasons.
Boggs got a promotion to Pawtucket in 1980 and continued hitting, this time .306/.404/.364. But he wasn't given a cup-of-coffee. Even with nothing left to prove in the minors, he returned to Pawtucket in '81 and hit .335/.430/.460, this time adding a bit of power with 41 doubles.
Boggs finally got to play as a 24-year-old in 1982, hitting .349 in 104 games for the Red Sox, emerging as a perennial batting champion candidate and future Hall of Famer.
Boggs' minor league career was marked by high batting averages after rookie ball, high walk rates, and incredibly low strikeout rates. He didn't show much power until his second year in Triple-A, but even so it is hard to believe that he spent four years in the high minors before being given a chance to play in the Majors.
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In some ways he was a throw-back to the baseball of the 20s and 30s.