November 11, 2014 at 7:30 AM
All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.
#4: Rafael Devers, 3B
2014 Teams: GCL Red Sox, DSL Red Sox
Final Stats: 302 PA, .322/.404/.506, 17 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 35 BB, 50 SO, 5 SB
Season in Review: Other than Mookie Betts, Devers was arguably the best hitter in the Red Sox farm system this year, hitting for both average and power despite being only 17 years old. Given a $1.5 million signing bonus in July 2013, some thought that Devers might debut in the Gulf Coast League after impressive showings in the 2013 Fall Instructional League and 2014 Spring Training.The Red Sox instead assigned the young third baseman to the Dominican Summer League, challenging him to show why he belonged at a higher level. He did not disappoint, hitting a monstrous opposite-field home run in his first game and starting the season with an 11-game hitting streak that saw him bat .442/.537/.814 with with three home runs and more walks than strikeouts. After continuing to dominate in the DSL, the Red Sox promoted Devers to the Gulf Coast League on July 2. His final DSL line of .337/.445/.538 is basically unparalleled for a Red Sox player in that league, and you have to go back to Ronald Bermudez (who was two years older and repeating the league) in 2007 to find a similar offensive performance.
The accolades came pouring in both during and after the season for Devers, as he won two SoxProspects.com Player of the Week Awards and the SoxProspects.com Player of the Month Award for July, and was voted a Season-End All Star and the system's Rookie of the Year by the SoxProspects.com community. Devers did have a setback in early October, suffering a stress fracture after turning his ankle while sliding at the Fall Instructional League. The Red Sox expect him to be healthy by late November and have a normal off-season. - Jim Crowell
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Devers is still very young, having only recently turned 18 years old, but if he continues on his current path he has the potential to be one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Despite his age, Devers has a mature body without much physical projection remaining. His body is a little on the soft side right now though, and he will need to watch it going forward. It is Devers's ability at the plate that gives him such upside, as he could eventually develop into a plus hitter for both average and power at the major league level. He has already shown an all-fields approach and power to all fields. His swing mechanics are solid and the ball really jumps off his bat. He is very loose at the plate and exudes confidence there. Devers can get a little aggressive at the plate and over-swing, but for an 18-year-old, he has a solid approach. In the field, however, there are more questions. Devers is not a great athlete, already a below-average runner, and can be erratic at third base. He has plenty of arm for the position, with it grading solid-average to plus, but errors were an issue this season in both the DSL and GCL. While the bat could play at other positions than third base, if he can stick at third, his value rises. Devers is one of the most exciting prospects in the system, with as high a ceiling as any prospect in the last few years. He is advanced enough at the plate to handle a full-season assignment to Low-A Greenville despite his age, and the pitching there should test him and his ability to adjust at the plate. - Ian Cundall
Additional editorial support provided by Norm Cimon.
Photo Credit: Kelly O'Connor