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Minor League Prospect Notes: Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Tocci

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Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts

***Boston Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts has seen mixed results thus far in his spring campaign for Double-A Portland in the Eastern League, with an overall line of .266/.338/.313 through 15 games. The batting average and OBP aren't terrible, but where's the power? This is the same guy who slugged .505 in 104 games in High-A and .598 in 23 games of Double-A last year. He entered 2013 with a career minor league SLG of .495.

JD Sussman over at Fangraphs took a look at Bogaerts this morning, breaking down what has gone wrong with Xander this year with an in-person scouting report. From Sussman's report:

The primary cause of his struggles on this night was his tendency to pull off the ball. Typically, a hitter's shoulders should be square to the pitcher until they begin to rotate following his hip turn. Against New Britain, Bogaerts's front shoulder was flying open too early and he was being exposed on the other half of the plate. The scouts behind the plate joked, "here comes another ground out to second." A scout who followed Portland for a few games noted weak contact became his expectation, and Bogaerts had not been playing up to his tools.

Go read the full article, it is well-worth your time. I concur with JD's conclusion that Bogaerts will rebound. I'm not worried about Mr. X at all.

***Another very young-but-struggling player of interest is Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Carlos Tocci, currently hitting a discouraging .197/.246/.230 in 17 games for Low-A Lakewood, though he did put together a 2-for-3 night yesterday with a double and two RBI. Tocci is extremely young, born August 23, 1995; he's only 17 years old, making him the youngest player at the Low-A level to this point in the season.

The Phillies have $759,000 invested in Tocci, having signed him as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2011. He hit .278/.330/.299 in 38 games in the Gulf Coast League last summer, so jumping him to full-season competition is an aggressive move. He is a superior athlete with 70-level speed and excellent defensive tools. He makes contact from the left side, not drawing many walks yet, but at least his strikeout rate is low (seven whiffs thus far in 61 at-bats).

Scouting reports indicate that Tocci has a good swing, but lacks the strength necessary to drive the ball past the infield. Theoretically this should improve as he matures physically, and the Phillies are showing a lot of faith by challenging him with full-season A-ball competition. Most kids his age are in high school. If he continues to struggle, it will be interesting to see if the Phillies send him down to the New York-Penn League once the short-season circuits open up in June. He would still be very young for that level.