While some players have been reluctant to play in the World Baseball Classic, Xander Bogaerts sounds like a guy who could be poised for another go-round in the future.
Bogaerts was back at Red Sox camp on Wednesday after playing for Team Netherlands at the WBC, and the 20-year-old couldn’t help but speak glowingly of his tournament experience.
“Awesome. A great experience,” Bogaerts told reporters on Wednesday. “I didn’t know it was that big. For me, it was really big because I [have] never been in the big leagues. So that was really awesome, on a really big stage, a lot of fans almost every day. So it was really, really special for me.”
Bogaerts, who is the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization, appeared in seven tournament games, hitting .263 (5-for-19) with two doubles and an RBI. Netherlands went 4-4 in the tourney before being eliminated by the Dominican Republic, which eventually won the championship.
Bogaerts is especially grateful for the time he spent playing alongside five-time All-Star Andruw Jones.
“You see him play all the time, he’s a home-grown kid,” Bogaerts said of Jones. “To be with him always and to be hanging around with him, that was awesome. I didn’t know him personally before, but it was great to get to know him.”
Bogaerts said he was very surprised by the pitching at the WBC. The infielder said that he was shocked by the amount of off-speed pitches he saw, although he felt as though he was able to make adjustments at the plate as the tournament went on.
Regardless of the final results, though, one piece of advice stood above the rest.
“Just stay yourself,” Bogaerts said. “No matter how many ups and downs you have, just stay yourself and have confidence in yourself. I started off slow, but guys still had confidence in me. I was surprised by that. That helped me get back on track.”
Now, it’s time for Bogaerts to continue his development in the Boston organization. Judging by his excitement about the WBC, though, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a more confident, established and well-known Bogaerts lace up the cleats for Team Netherlands again in 2017.
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Photo via Facebook/Xander Bogaerts