Exceeding Expectations With Rafael Devers

By mid-July, Boston’s third base situation was a mess. With Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin attempting to cover for Pablo Sandoval’s brutality, the Red Sox mustered up a collective .224/.284/.307 slash line at the third base position before they decided to make a change.

Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski uncharacteristically decided against acquiring a third baseman at the trade deadline and instead, chose to bring up Boston’s top prospect Rafael Devers to the big league club. Devers impressed at just about every level of the minors. BP’s senior prospect writer Jeffrey Paternostro noted this in The Call-Up, Rafael Devers edition:

“He came stateside the following summer after just 28 games in the DSL. In 2015, he was given an aggressive assignment to the South Atlantic League as an 18-year-old. He held his own—batting .289/.323/.443—and jumped up our 101 from No. 90 to No. 35. He almost xeroxed his line in 2016 as a 19-year-old in Advanced-A, and that was after an ice cold start to the season.”

Devers then kick-started an incredible beginning to his 2017 season in Double-A Portland, slashing .300/.369/.575 with 18 homers in 77 games before being moved up to Triple-A. In Pawtucket, Devers slashed .400/.447/.600 in nine games. His rapid improvement coincided perfectly with Boston’s decision to stand pat on trading for a third baseman.

Since joining the Red Sox, Devers has somehow outperformed his Triple-A numbers. Now, the 20-year-old lefty is slashing .429/.500/.714 in his first seven games at the big league level. Devers is more than filling the third base void that has pained Boston all season long. His minor league scouting report has translated to the big leagues in a big way. That power to all fields? Let’s look at his two home runs so far.

Devers’ first career blast was 427 feet, as projected by Statcast, and to dead center. His second wasn’t quite 427 feet, but it scraped atop the Green Monster for an opposite field shot.

Devers has sprayed the ball as advertised; he has only pulled two of his 12 hits, with five going to center and left field apiece. His sweet swing has been everything Sox fans have hyped it up to be. In just seven games, Devers has already accumulated a 0.6 WARP. He’s been a questionable defender in the past, but a 1.3 FRAA mark thus far has shown that Devers has not yet been a liability at the hot corner.

In being realistic, major league pitchers will be able to scout Devers better as more data comes in. His .500 BABIP will obviously drop. Seven games is a minuscule sample size to say the least. But hey, it’s been about as good a seven games as Sox fans could hope for, right?

Photo by Winslow Townson – USA TODAY Sports

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