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SoxProspects News

January 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM

2015 Top 40 Season in Review: Rafael Devers

This week, we recap the players ranked 43, and 2 in the SoxProspects.com season-end Top 40. All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

#2, Rafael Devers, 3B
2015 Teams: Greenville Drive
Final Stats: 508 PA, .288/.329/.443, 11 HR, 24 BB, 84 K, 3 SB
2015 Peak Ranking: 2 (current)
Season in Review: 2014

Season in Review: Rafael Devers entered his first full season as a professional in 2015 and he did not disappoint. At just 18 years old, Devers was a full 3 1/2 years younger than the average age of his competition in the South Atlantic League. Still, after an adjustment period of about a week, he caught fire, hitting .352/.382/.517 with three home runs from April 18 to June 1. The league caught up to him by June, however, and he spent the rest of the season alternating between stretches of slumping (e.g., .154/.258/.295, 2 home runs from July 24 to August 17) and stretches of success (e.g., .365/.375/.596, 3 home runs from July 6-22). Still, his success at a very age-advanced level earned him national notice, and mid-season, he was selected as the second-youngest player to the MLB Futures Game, going 0 for 2 in the exhibition, as well as to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. He finished his 2015 with 43 at-bats in the Dominican Winter League, where he hit .279/.340/.349 despite being very young for that circuit as well.

Devers' hot stretch early in the year may have led to his being a bit overaggressive, as he walked no more than five times in any of the first four months of the season, although he did show improvement later in the year, taking 12 free passes in his final 165 plate appearances after taking that many in his first 343. Devers continued to improve with the glove in 2015 as well, as he made just 10 errors in 196 chances after making 18 errors in 189 chances in 2014.

Again, the awards came rushing in for the young Devers, both before and after his triumphant sophomore season. He captured both a SoxProspects.com Pre-Season and Season-End All-Star nod in addition to taking home one Player of the Week and a Player of the Month award during his torrid month of May. - Nick Rabasco

Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: Devers established himself as one of the best young hitters in minor league baseball in 2015, showing the potential to hit for both average and power. Still just 18 years old for the entire 2015 season, Devers is listed 6-foot-0, 210 pounds, with a strong, developed lower half. He has room to add strength in his upper body as he matures and still has a very young looking face. He will have to watch his conditioning as he matures, but he has done a good job of doing so thus far.

Devers' calling card comes at the plate, where he has a fluid, easy, but explosive swing with quick, strong wrists. He has easy plus bat speed and nice separation in his swing. He does a great job utilizing his hips and lower half, using them to help generate plus raw power. He has shown an 'all-fields' approach with over-the-fence power to all fields. Devers' approach is surprisingly advanced for someone his age, with a solid knowledge of the strike zone and pitch recognition. That said, at only 19, he is still aggressive and looks to attack early in the count, which can contribute to his low walk totals. While he presently has more raw power than game power, it is not a stretch to project him, at his peak, as a plus hitter for both average and power.

Devers has below-average speed and it does not project to be a major part of his game going forward. That said, he is not a base-clogger either, and shows some athleticism both on the bases and in the field. Defensively, Devers made major strides at third base this season with improved conditioning, which subsequently helped both his range and agility. He has plenty of arm for third base, able to make all the throws including from deep behind the third base bag. Overall, Devers is one of the top prospects in the system, and even though he is still a teenager, his game is far more advanced than one might expect. He will begin 2016 in Salem and it would not be out of the question for him to end the year in Portland, still in his age-19 season. - Ian Cundall

Photo Credit: Kelly O' Connor