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MLB Rookie Profile: Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox

Boston promotes top prospect Rafael Devers to the major league roster. What can we expect?

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the Boston Red Sox promoted third base prospect Rafael Devers to the major league roster. He’s been crushing minor league pitching all year and has arrived sooner than expected pre-season, in part due to an inability to acquire a veteran for the stretch run and in part due to his own superior efforts. Let’s conduct a quick review.

Devers is from the Dominican Republic, signed for $1,500,000 in 2013. At the time he was praised for his hitting potential but had a reputation as a poor fielder at third base. He’s hit as expected and had a strong 2016 season (.282/.335/.443 in High-A at age 19).

He ranked second (just behind Andrew Benintendi) on the pre-season Top 20 Boston Red Sox prospects for 2017, with the following comment:

2) Rafael Devers, 3B, Grade A-: Age 20, signed for $1,500,000 out of Dominican Republic in 2013; hit .282/.335/.444 with 32 doubles, 11 homers, 18 steals in 503 at-bats in High-A; left-handed bat with 60-grade raw power and excellent bat speed, steadily gaining command of the strike zone although not likely to be a walk machine; doesn’t have Benintendi’s polish but has more pure power projection; despite past doubts about his glove at third base, his defensive stats are strong with improving reliability and above-average range; scouting reports are now catching up with the defensive numbers and his reputation for defense is improving; ETA 2019.

Devers has taken a massive step forward with the bat this year, hitting .300/.369/.575 in 287 at-bats for Double-A Portland. He was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on July 14th with the idea that he might be ready for a major league trial in September.

He’s continued to mash in Triple-A (.400/.447/.600 in 35 at-bats). With the failure of a potential Todd Frazier trade, moving Devers up was the next best option since it doesn’t look like he has much left to learn in the minors.

Devers is a left-handed hitter, listed at 6-0, 195, born October 24th, 1996. Our own Wayne Cavadi saw Devers play recently and filed this report last week, noting especially his ability to drive the ball to all fields with power as well as his improved strike zone judgment.

He still needs more polish with the glove and made four errors in eight games after moving up to Triple-A, but the consensus now is that he’ll stick at third, showing more than enough arm strength and range for the position.

There’s always risk when a young player advance so rapidly and the American League is not the International League. In the medium and long run Devers should hit for both power and average. We’ll have to see if that is true this August and September in the majors.