Mookie Betts: 2014’s Xander Bogaerts?


Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Boston Red Sox infielder Mookie Betts against the East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s impossible to compare Mookie Betts to Xander Bogaerts. Before his promotion, Bogaerts was a bona fide blue chip prospect, ranked #2 in all of baseball on most lists of top prospects and he has seamlessly transitioned to the Major Leagues, slashing .304/.395/.464 in 238 plate appearances this year. However, regardless of whether Betts is on the level of Bogaerts, it is very possible to compare Mookie Betts’ minor league progression to that of Xander Bogaerts.

Xander Bogaerts is a year younger than Betts (imagine that), but aside from that, there are many similarities between how the two players have progressed.  Betts broke out last season, slashing .314/.417/.506 between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem as a 20-year old. Similarly, Bogaerts really broke out one year earlier– in 2012– as he hit .307/.373/.523 between Salem and Double-A Portland.

However, neither player slowed down in their follow-up seasons. In 2013, Bogaerts was hitting at a .297/.388/.477 clip between Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket before his promotion to Boston and, in 2014, Betts had been dominating Double-A competition as he slashed .355/.443/.551 before his recent promotion to Pawtucket.

However, the comparisons don’t die after the similarities in the two players’ success in the minor leagues. The Red Sox have also promoted both players in a similar fashion. Both players split their breakout years between two teams (Greenville and Salem in Betts’ case, Salem and Portland in Bogaerts’ case) and began their follow-up seasons in Portland (Bogaerts needed some extra seasoning after his debut in Double-A). And after dominating Double-A for the first few months of the season, both players were promoted in Pawtucket in June.

Bogaerts got off to a slow start at Pawtucket but turned his slash line around to a .284/.369/.453 mark before his promotion to Boston. It remains to be seen how Betts transitions to Pawtucket, but the similarities don’t die there either.

Both Bogaerts and Betts were transitioning to Triple-A baseball at the same time as they were learning a new position. Bogaerts was moving from shortstop to third base to add some versatility and potentially allow him to replace a struggling Will Middlebrooks (which he did in the 2013 postseason) and Betts is moving from second base to center field. Obviously, there is no opening at the keystone in Boston with Dustin Pedroia set to fill that role for years to come and the Red Sox’ outfield has been among the worst in baseball this season, so this is a move designed to allow Betts to contribute this season.

With the Red Sox’ outfield in its current state of shambles, it makes sense that the Red Sox would want Betts to add a spark there. We’ll see how Betts adjusts to Pawtucket, but if he continues the dominance that he has displayed over the last two seasons, it certainly would not be a stretch to imagine we could see Betts within a few months. If he can add life to the Red Sox lineup much as Bogaerts did in 2013, then Mookie Betts will just continue to draw comparisons to Xander Bogaerts, and that’s not at all a bad thing.