In preparation for an eventful off-season, ‘Stock Watch‘ will take an in-depth look at some of the most important players on the Boston Red Sox and what their role in 2015 might be. The series continues with Xander Bogaerts.

Xander Bogaerts

Age: 22
Contract status: Pre-arbitration
Current stock: Down
Report card grade for 2014: C+
Chances of being on the Red Sox on opening day: 99 percent

THE STORY

Before Xander Bogaerts put together a 2013 season that was eerily similar to Mookie Betts’ breakout year in 2014, Boston Red Sox front office members sat down with their player development people and asked what Bogaerts needed to get better at.

After he signed out of Aruba for $410,000 as a teenager, he hit at every level of the minor leagues. But in the winter of 2012, he wasn’t yet the No. 2 overall prospect in baseball yet (he earned that status after helping the Red Sox win the 2013 World Series).

General manager Ben Cherington remembered the 2012 conversation about Bogaerts when asked about it in last year’s playoffs.

“The player development people said if there was one part of his game that he needed to develop a little, it was his discipline at the plate,” Cherington said then.

Bogaerts made drastic improvements in that area in 2013, improving his walk/strikeout ratio in the minors from 44/106 in ’12 to 63/95 in ’13 (and he moved up a level).

But the discipline issues returned in 2014. After a hot April and May left Bogaerts with the fourth-best on-base percentage in the American League (.396), the Red Sox were skidding into June and Bogaerts was still struggling defensively at shortstop. As his season began to unravel, different people in the Red Sox organization have different beliefs when asked why it happened.

There’s the Stephen Drew theory, which Bogaerts has somewhat backed before. When Drew …read more