In shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the Boston Red Sox have one of the most exciting young players in baseball. The native of Aruba has blossomed into a true star, showing five-tool talent and still clocking in at the tender age of 24. Although some fans may not realize it, not that long ago, the team was fortunate enough to have two Bogaerts in their organization, with Xander’s (fraternal) twin brother Jair making up the other half of the tandem.
Jair and Xander signed with the Red Sox at the same time as 16-year-olds in 2009. With a bigger build than his brother, Jair was a catcher and first baseman. A right-handed batter, he made his professional debut in 2010 with the organization’s Dominican Summer League team, hitting a disappointing .170 with two home runs and 20 RBIs in 46 games. However, he rebounded the following year as an 18-year-old, producing a .280 batting average, two homers and 27 RBIs for the same team.
Although such strong results should have jump-started his track with Boston, he was instead sent to the Chicago Cubs as part of a deal that relocated current Chicago team president Theo Epstein from Beantown. Shockingly, he was released before he ever played a game in the Chicago system. He wound up trying out for a number of other teams but never found a taker.
Fortunately, the tide has turned for Bogaerts and he has found a new path that has kept him in baseball. He is currently working for the Beverly Hills Sports Council and one of their top agents, Rafa Nieves. Still just 24, he has gone from being a baseball prospect to an ingénue in the competitive and high-octane world of sports agents. He has taken a different path than he may have originally thought he would be on, but his future remains as promising as ever. Keep reading for his thoughts on his career and that of his brother.
Who was your favorite baseball team and player growing up, and why?: Growing up I was a big Atlanta Braves fan because of Andruw Jones. Almost every kid on the island of Curacao and Aruba idolized Andruw Jones growing up; he was the big thing.
How big is baseball in Aruba, and how did you get interested in playing?: Soccer is the first sport in Aruba and then it’s baseball. Baseball always gave better results internationally than Soccer. Our uncles played baseball in their younger days and were really good, so that’s how we got introduced to baseball. We are definitely a baseball family.
You and your brother Xander both signed with the Red Sox when you were 16. What did you two do to celebrate that once everything was final and it was clear you were going to play professionally?: We signed at Fenway Park and that was very special for us being 16-year-olds and becoming part of the Red Sox. We had our families there and we enjoyed our first Red Sox game.
If you could do one thing about your playing career differently, what would that be and why?: I wouldn’t do anything different; just would have hoped for a fair chance after being traded. That’s all.
How do you feel about what Xander has been able to accomplish with the Red Sox?: I’m as proud as anyone can be. I’m definitely his number one fan and always in his corner since day one. He's had an awesome career leading up to the majors and it was just a matter of time to see him become the everyday shortstop of the Red Sox. Now seeing him become this great player at such a high level, being mentioned with the great players of today; it’s special man. Words can’t describe the feeling about how proud I am of that kid. He works hard and it’s definitely paying off.
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