“While much of the talk this spring in Boston revolves around the big league shortstop battle between Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie, the winner will just be holding the fort for Jose Iglesias in 2012.”
–Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
The Boston Red Sox have not announced whether 21-year-old shortstop Jose Iglesias will begin this season in Portland or Pawtucket, but it certainly appears likely that the team’s top-rated prospect will make his Triple-A debut at some point in 2011.
In the now-trademarked words of Jets linebacker Bart Scott: “Can’t wait!”
Like many Red Sox fans, I have been following Iglesias’ progress ever since the Red Sox signed the slick-fielding Cuban defector to a 4-year, $8.25 million contract (including a $6 million signing bonus) in 2009.
“You’d love to have a kid like this,” a scout told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. “He reminds me of a cross between Rey Ordonez and Omar Vizquel. He can make the sensational play, but what it comes down to is making the routine play and not turning the routine play into an ESPN highlight video.”
You can see video of Jose Iglesias here.
Iglesias began playing in Cuba’s National Series (its version of MLB) when he was 16 years old. In July of 2008, Jose defected from Cuba’s Junior National Team while playing in a tournament in Canada and he signed with Boston the following summer.
“I’ve realized part of my dream, which sadly I couldn’t do while living in my home country,” Iglesias told ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr. at the time. “Everything would be perfect if I could bring my family over here some day. I thank God every day for this opportunity. The most difficult thing for me right now is not having my family. But this is such a place of opportunity for those who look for it.”
Since that interview, his father and brother have joined him in the United States, and Iglesias has established an off-season home in Florida. This winter, he spent time training with Scutaro and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez who both said that the kid is a future big leaguer – perhaps as soon as next year.
“It depends on him,” Scutaro told Ian Browne from mlb.com. “But I think if he goes down there [to the minors] this year and gets 400 or 500 at-bats and he plays good, I think he should be ready for 2012.”
“That kid is going to be sensational,” Rodriguez told the Globe’s Cafardo. “I was so impressed with him. He works hard and he’s such a good kid. Red Sox fans should be very excited to see this kid in the future.”
Last year, Iglesias not only earned rave reviews for his defense, but batted .285 (.315 OPB/.357 SLG) in 57 games with Double-A Portland. So far this spring, Jose is batting .400 (6-for-15) in 8 exhibition games with Boston.
“I think he’s getting more comfortable and getting used to everything – the country, the guys,” Dustin Pedroia told mlb.com’s Browne. “He looks good. He’s working hard. He’s getting older and getting stronger, so that’s going to help him out offensively. Defensively, we’ve all seen [what he can do]. He’s ready defensively. He just needs time to get stronger and stuff like that.”
I’ll be heading to Boston’s spring training camp on March 26th, and Iglesias is the player I am the most eager to see in person.
It appears that PawSox fans will have that opportunity this summer at McCoy Stadium.
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