Mauricio Dubon struck out three times Tuesday night for the Portland Sea Dogs and texted a good friend about it the next evening.

“Dude, I struck out three times,” Dubon wrote. “The guy didn’t throw me any fastballs.”

The reply was quick:

“Man, don’t worry. I had three strikeouts, too. It’s going to happen. It’s fine. Just make the adjustments. Trust me, you’re a good player.”

Nice to have a friend like Xander Bogaerts.

“He’s been like a big brother to me,” Dubon said. “It’s good to have someone who knows your struggles.”

What is interesting is the presence of Bogaerts, 23, as the Boston Red Sox starting shortstop – and likely first-time All-Star – means Dubon, 21, may not have a future in Boston, or at least not as a full-time shortstop.

Dubon doesn’t think about it. Just like he didn’t think much of the 2013 major league draft when he appeared to simply be an afterthought – a 26th-round draft pick of the Red Sox.

“As a 26th-rounder, I was probably drafted to be a roster-filler or something like that, instead of (someone) having the success I’ve had,” Dubon said.

Instead of being another nameless minor leaguer – and a skinny one at that (6 feet, 160 pounds) – Dubon stood out, playing superb defense at short while hitting. He has a career .298 average and .734 OPS.

“Baseball will take care of itself,” Dubon said. You never know what’s going to happen. I knew my ability. I never doubted that. It was just the matter of getting the chance.”

Don’t mistake Dubon’s confidence for arrogance. He knows he can play but his humility and gratitude are like another shortstop who came through Hadlock Field – Bogaerts, in 2012 and ’13.

Bogaerts arrived with fanfare – a big-time prospect. When Dubon showed up in Portland last week, Red Sox followers knew his name because of his impressive numbers, but he was still in the shadow of the big-name prospects also recently promoted from Salem – second baseman Yoan Moncada and center fielder Andrew Benintendi.

And because of Bogaerts, one wonders what Boston will do with Dubon.

Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles has an idea. Febles managed Dubon for half a season last year when Dubon was promoted to Salem, and they’ve been reunited. Febles knows Dubon is versatile enough to be a super utility player.

“He’s a good player, a good defender. He puts the barrel of the bat on the ball,” Febles said. “He’s getting stronger. He’s driving the ball a little more than last year.

“He can play multiple positions. He played second base and third base for me last year in Salem. Hard to find somebody who is good at short, and can also play second and third.”

Dubon has only played shortstop this year because of the presence of prospects Moncada and third baseman Rafael Devers in Salem.

Maybe Dubon wasn’t in the spotlight but he hasn’t been overlooked.

“He’s made a name for himself,” Febles said. “He has great instincts and great first-step quickness. Good arm, good game awareness. He knows how to play the game of baseball.

“He’s the type of guy that’s flying under the radar and out of the blue, he’s in the big leagues.”

Unlikely roots

Should Dubon make the big leagues, he’ll be only the second native of Honduras to reach the majors. Outfielder Gerald Young played with the Astros, Rockies and Cardinals from 1987-94.

Dubon is from San Pedro Sula, a city of more than 700,000 in the northeast – an area that was dubbed “The Murder Capital of the World” by CNN in 2013.

“It’s dangerous,” Dubon said. “If you’re doing bad stuff, it’s going to be bad on you. But if you’re calm and everything, you’ll be fine.”

Baseball, as it turned out, was Dubon’s ticket to the U.S. Although Dubon played his national pastime, soccer, his passion became baseball, first from watching his father and older brother play softball and baseball games, and then standing out himself on national teams.

When Dubon was 15, he met visiting missionaries from Impact International Baseball Academy, a unique, spiritual-based group from Sacramento, California, that brings medical help and baseball (in the form of field repairs, new equipment, etc.) to impoverished areas.

According to the group’s website, one goal is to “help student athletes reach their education and sports goals.” That goal includes sponsoring international players in the U.S.

“They came and gave away baseball gear and uniforms,” Dubon said. “One day we were practicing and they saw me playing. They were interested in bringing me (to the U.S.) to play summer ball.

“I ended up doing well in summer ball. They asked me if I wanted to stay in school there.”

With his parents’ permission, Dubon attended Capital Christian School in Sacramento, staying with a host family.

“It was really hard to leave, but that school made me feel like home,” Dubon said. “And my host family took me in like one of their sons.”

Dubon adapted well and made friends. Two weeks ago, he returned to California for the California-Carolina League All-Star Game in Lake Elsinore, 450 miles south of Sacramento.

“I had like 25 people there, family and friends,” Dubon said. “A couple of my friends had not seen me play since high school. They said I looked the same, just more mature.”

Three years out of high school and now in Double-A, he’s two steps from the major leagues.

A friend and, maybe, future teammate

Dubon may become a big league shortstop, and he may play at Fenway, but he likely won’t do both, at least not very often with Bogaerts starring at the position in Boston.

This past February, Bogaerts became more than just a major leaguer in Dubon’s way.

“We met in spring training. We talked,” Dubon said. Next thing they knew, they were roommates in Florida. In their spare time, the two kicked around a soccer ball, played basketball and battled through video games (especially the FIFA soccer games).

“We’ve become very good friends,” Dubon said. “I talk to him nearly every day, asking him for advice.”

When Dubon learned he was coming to Portland, he reached out to Bogaerts.

“He said just be yourself, don’t change your approach,” Dubon said.

Dubon’s approach is successful. In a six-game sample with the Sea Dogs, he’s batting .304 with a .906 OPS while sparkling on defense.

With Bogaerts in Boston, it’s feasible that Dubon will become trade bait. Or the Red Sox could see his utility potential. Boston can be patient. There is no immediate need to put him on the 40-man roster. Dubon won’t have to be protected from the Rule 5 draft until after next season.

Assuming Dubon stays with the Red Sox, he has a goal for next February in his competition with Bogaerts.

“We played FIFA (the video game) a lot last spring,” Dubon said. “He beat me so many times. I’m working toward next spring training. Maybe I can beat him.”

And later, maybe Dubon can become his teammate.


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