FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where further proof of Xander Bogaerts’s great promise arrived in the mail this week.
John Sickels, a Bill James protégé who said his talent evaluations are a blend of sabermetrics and traditional scouting, has come out with the 18th edition of The Baseball Prospect Book. Sickels assigns a grade to each of the prospects he rates, with an “A” reserved for what he calls “the elite.’’
“They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars,’’ writes Sickels, a senior editor at MinorLeagueBaseball.com. “Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major 'if' in some cases.’’
In the 2012 edition, Sickels handed out five “A’s” to position players: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar, Orioles shortstop Manny Machado and Mariners catcher Jesus Montero. All five advanced to the majors last season; Harper and Trout achieved instant stardom, Montero was an everyday player, Machado boosted the Orioles’ stretch run playing third base, and Profar lit up Double-A.
In 2013, Sickels gives out four “A’s”: Profar, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, Rays outfielder Wil Myers, and Bogaerts.
Here’s part of what Sickels wrote about Bogaerts, who is currently with Team Netherlands, awaiting the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic:
“His plate discipline is pretty bad at times, but he generates such tremendous bat speed that he gets away with it. Add a slightly more mature approach, and Bogaerts has an All-Star ceiling, a guy who can hit .300+ with 30 homers down the line.’’
In case you’re wondering, Sickels assigned center-fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. a grade of B-plus, with B’s given to players who have a good chance of having successful careers, some developing into stars. Pitcher Matt Barnes was the only other Sox prospect who rated a B-plus.
* The bus carrying a split squad of Sox players left for Sarasota at 8:30 a.m. for a game Friday afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles. Manager John Farrell was on that bus, and said he plans to be back at JetBlue Park for Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
“We’re doubling down,’’ he said.
As you might expect, most of the regulars are not headed for Sarasota, and a relief pitcher, Clayton Mortensen, will be starting for the Sox, with left-hander Felix Doubront scheduled to start Friday night against the Twins.
Lefty Chris Hernandez, and right-handers Oscar Villareal and Alex Wilson are all scheduled to follow Mortensen to the mound in Sarasota.
Here’s the Sox lineup for Sarasota:
1. Brock Holt, 2B
2. Jose Iglesias, SS
3. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
4. Ryan Lavarnway, DH
5. David Ross, C
6. Mauro Gomez, 1B
7. Mitch Maier, LF
8. Drew Sutton, 3B
9. Bryce Brentz, RF
SP -- Clayton Mortensen, RHP
The clubhouse was closed this morning to the media; it will open at 1:45 this afternoon.
* Author, author: Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, combining business with pleasure, will be at JetBlue Park tonight to discuss the book on gangster Whitey Bulger that he co-authored with Globe reporter Shelley Murphy. He’ll be in the courtyard near the ticket office and party tents from 6-6:30 p.m., then set up inside in the concourse near Gate C to autograph copies of the book, entitled “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.’’ Why no Shelley Murphy? Only speculating, but she may not be quite the ballfan Cullen is.
* And yes, that was the Red, White and Blue Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, popping out for the final out in the Dominican Republic’s 3-1 win over Team USA Thursday night in Miami. Victorino has 1 hit in 7 at-bats in the World Baseball Classic.