How Good has Rafael Devers Been?

On July 23, the Boston Red Sox called up top prospect, third baseman Rafael Devers to help solve their problems at the position.  Prior to his call-up, Devers had played in just nine games at AAA, hitting to the tune of a .400/.447/.600 slashline.  At just 20 years old, Devers has shown supreme promise in the minors as a left-handed batter whose only question mark was whether he could play good enough defense to stay at the position.

Since being called-up to the majors, Devers has done nothing but hit well, with a .429/.500/.714 slashline with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs over seven games.  Even better is that he has struck out just six times and has drawn four walks in his 32 plate appearances, showing an ability to make contact even against major league pitching. Eventually his batting average and on-base percentage will drop some as he is currently riding a .500 BABIP, well above league average.  However, even in the minors, Devers had a high BABIP, so this may just be in line with what he is capable of doing.  Even his batted ball numbers are above league average, with a 27.3 line drive percentage while the league average since 2002 has been 21%.  He has also had a hard hit percentage (40.9%) that is higher than league average and a soft hit percentage (18.2%) that is below league average. He has even done an excellent job at spraying hits across the field, with a pull rate of just 22.7%. This follows the trend Devers set in the minors as he had a pull rate above 43% just once, his first year in professional baseball, when he was 17 years old.  In the most recent Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN, the Red Sox were playing the Indians and I was able to watch Devers play for the first time and I was amazed.  In that game, he went 4-for-4 with a double off the Green Monster and an RBI.  Two of his hits went opposite field, doing an excellent job at giving what the pitcher gave him and allowing his bat speed and hands to do the work.  Sunday night also saw Devers become the third youngest Red Sox player to have four hits, quite an accomplishment in a franchise that is as historic as Boston is.

Even his defense, the area where scouts questioned if he could make the transition to the majors, has been plenty good enough, making just one error in 20 chances.  In that Sunday night game, with a runner on first, Indians’ DH Edwin Encarnacion was at the plate and hit a line drive to third base.  It was hit hard enough that Devers was unable to make the play on the fly, but kept his cool, was able to retrieve the ball, and get the runner at second base.  He should be good enough to be a serviceable third baseman in the immediate future even if he has to move to DH or first base down the road.

Devers has given the Red Sox lineup an immediate spark and should continue to do so the rest of the season.  He was probably even better than any other option they could have gotten at the trade deadline excluding Manny Machado.  Even though he is currently in a platoon at third base, he will receive the majority of starts at the position down the stretch.  Even in his eight at-bats against left-handed pitchers this season, he has hit plenty well enough, going 3-for-8 with one double, good enough for a .375 batting average.  I don’t think he will end up being an everyday starter this season but if he continues to hit lefties this well, he will likely be the Red Sox everyday third baseman next season. So far, he is absolutely living up to his hype as a prospect and could be the Red Sox best third baseman since Wade Boggs.

*All stats and information came from ESPN, Baseball Reference, Minor League Baseball, and Fangraphs.

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