Red Sox teenage phenom Xander Bogaerts may be asked to move to third base later in his baseball career, but right now he's more than content manning shortstop.
With a potent bat and the power to spray the ball to all fields, Boston's No. 2 prospect already fits the profile of a prototypical hot corner slugger. But no matter where he goes defensively, he should put up big numbers from the heart of any lineup.
The 19-year-old went 2-for-5 with a solo homer in his Eastern League debut Thursday in the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs' 5-3 win over the Akron Aeros.
"I would say it went pretty good. My defense was good, I didn't make any errors and I got a lot of chances on ground balls," Bogaerts said. "I made a diving play and I hit a home run.
"I was reading the pitches well and my strike zone was pretty good. I laid off some good pitches and I hit the other ones hard. It was exciting. I didn't expect a lot, but I'm really happy with it."
The home run was his 16th longball of the season, and he has now tied his single-season high with 24 games still left in the season.
Called up from Class A Advanced Salem on Wednesday after the team's 7-6 win at home to Carolina, the 6-foot-3 right-hander added to his home run tally relatively quickly.
After grounding out to start the second inning and flying out to end the fourth, Bogaerts lofted a fly ball off Akron reliever T.J. House to the deepest part of Canal Park to lead off the sixth.
"I didn't expect to hit a home run," he explained. "I was just looking to make contact. I got to a 2-0 count and he threw me a fastball that I pulled down the third-base line pretty hard. The next pitch he shook his head 'no' and I knew I was going to get a fastball.
"I knew it was a double. I hit it pretty hard, but I didn't know it was a bomb like that. It went pretty far, man."
MLB.com's No. 62 prospect also singled to left field to load the bases in the seventh and he grounded out to end the ninth.
Signed by the Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent in 2009, Bogaerts was selected to represent the World Team at the Futures Game earlier this summer, his third season as a pro.
In 104 games with Salem prior to his promotion, Bogaerts -- a native of San Nicolas in Aruba -- batted .302 with 15 homers and 64 RBIs. His 43 walks saw him post a .378 on-base percentage, while his 27 doubles and three triples led to a .505 slugging percentage.
Other than working on his defense in Salem, the biggest thing he took from his time in the Carolina League was the mental approach.
"There is always a tomorrow. Stay consistent and don't think about the numbers," he said. "I'm also letting the ball get deeper into me, so I can hit it to the middle of the field and not always pull it or roll over it. When I [hit it the other way], I know I'm pretty good and that it's trouble for the pitchers."
While Bogaerts is highly regarded for his powerful swing by scouts and coaches, he still doesn't think of himself as a slugger. Right now, he's just concentrating on putting the ball in play and improving in the field.
"I like to hit for average, not for power at all, but the power has been going for me the last two years," he said. "I've just been doing the same things and not overdoing my lifting or trying to do too much. I think it must be my bat speed."
And the chances of remaining a shortstop at the new level?
"I can stick around [at shortstop]. I've been playing pretty good and my errors are going down. It's the position I've played my whole career and it will be nice to stay there. The important thing is I'm getting better. I'm having fun and going about playing the game the right way. I'm just doing what I know how to do."
Bogaerts' go-ahead homer paved the way for Portland starter Jeremy Kehrt (7-3) to pick up the victory. The right-hander allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three batters over five innings.
Akron reliever Rob Bryson (4-3) took the loss after yielding two runs on a hit and four free passes over 1 1/3 innings.