LOWELL — Only a wizard-style backflip could have made the moment of defensive magic more complete.
Red Sox star prospect Jose Iglesias ranged to his right deep into the hole, backhanded the screaming line drive on a short hop at the outfield grass and effortlessly flipped the ball to first, turning a sure-fire hit into an easy out.
"That guy is electric," raved longtime Red Sox minor league coach Bruce Crabbe soon after. "He is just flash and makes it look easy. That kid is the real deal."
There is no question, Jose Iglesias can really play shortstop.
And make no mistake, the style he plays the position has almost nothing in common with the way Nomar Garciaparra used to or the way Mike Aviles currently does.
The smooth, elegant style in which Iglesias plays shortstop is almost artistic to watch and that dynamic defense has garnered the utmost praise.
He has earned the title of "The Next Great Red Sox Shortstop" and is currently ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Red Sox system. Sports Illustrated even compared his defensive ability to the greatest defensive shortstop of all-time, Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
"It really is a combination of instincts and hard work," said Iglesias, who is how playing for Triple A Pawtucket. "I try to be ready on every single pitch of every game and do whatever I can to make the play."
Ozzie a big fan
The soft-spoken infielder very nearly won the starting shortstop job in Boston this spring, and is likely to earn a late-season call-up.
When he does, he will have a fan in the legendary Smith.
"I knew my defense was what allowed me to play at the big league level," said Smith from his home in St. Louis. "You need to have someone that you can have confidence in, and it seems like Jose is one of those people.