After just nine games at the Triple-A level for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Major League Baseball’s top 3rd base prospect Rafael Devers has been promoted to the Boston Red Sox for his Major League debut.
Devers is expected to be available off the bench for the Red Sox on Monday when they are slated to begin a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners, but Devers’ first playing time for Boston will likely come on Tuesday when he is scheduled to start at third base.
While the Red Sox desperately need help at third base, the timing of Devers’ call-up to the big show is surprising. In fact, just two weeks ago, the last thing the Red Sox wanted to do, according to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, was to put the pressure on the 20-year-old Devers to come up to Red Sox, and essentially save the Red Sox’s third base position from a purely production standpoint.
Boy did things change quickly, as Dombrowski now believes that Devers is ready to handle being the Red Sox answer at third base now, and for many years to come alongside star shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
“I have been on the phone probably as much on him as on any player maybe in my career on a daily basis, just talking to people to see how he’s handling it. … Performance-wise, he got three more hits and he’s hitting .400,” Dombrowski said. “I talked to [Triple-A Pawtucket manager] Kevin Boles myself, I talked to [vice president of player development] Ben Crockett, talked to various guys that have been there, [Red Sox assistant general manager] Eddie Romero. And really, the consensus is that he’s a baseball player, loves to play the game, he’s ready to handle it. He thinks he’s ready to handle it, so we figure, give him a challenge.”
Dombrowski’s biggest concern about Devers coming up initially is also a fairly common one; how will he respond to failures/struggles that will surely come at the big league level?
“Our biggest concern with him has been that if we brought him up and he struggles, like a lot of guys do, how would he handle it? And our people feel he’ll handle it well at this point. They said that he’s ready to tackle that next step,” Dombrowski said.
Another reason to keep in mind as to why Devers is coming up to the Major League level is that the Red Sox more than likely did not like the price for positional players that can play third base on the trade market right now. Their said to be target, Todd Frazier, went to their biggest rival in the New York Yankees, and Eduardo Nunez can do it all on the infield, which will cost a steep price as it is for a 2016 MLB All-Star.
Quite frankly, Devers was the best internal option at this point regardless of how little experience the 20-year-old has. He’s hit at every level he’s been at in the Red Sox organization since age 16, and Deven Marrero, Josh Rutledge, Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, Tzu-Wei Lin, Steve Selsky, and Christian Vazquez all have not hit at the MLB level this season whatsoever.
The two biggest names on the Red Sox roster last season at third base where Pablo Sandoval and Travis Shaw. Sandoval of course has been recently released by the Red Sox and found himself back with the San Francisco Giants, but taking Shaw out of Boston has proved to be a big mistake for the Red Sox so far.
Many in Boston thought that Shaw was a platoon player at third base. A left-handed hitter that can’t hit lefties for other terms, so that’s why the Red Sox dealt him to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with three other prospects for right-handed relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg won’t pitch at all this season due to shoulder surgery, but Shaw is batting .294/.361/.567 with 22 homers and 70 RBIs in 337 at-bats for Milwaukee this season.
Officially now, Devers is part of a young Red Sox core that features Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi. Boston brought Bogaerts and Benintendi up from Double-A Portland, skipping the Triple-A level. At Portland, Devers slashed .300/.369/.575 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. Boston is hoping at this point that Devers can replicate a fraction of Bogaerts and Benintedi’s success at the Major League level this season.
It will be interesting to see how Devers is used by Red Sox manager John Farrell for the rest of the season, and how long Devers stays up if the Red Sox make a move outside the organization to acquire another bat for their lineup.
Still, a starting infield of Devers-Bogaerts-Dustin Pedroia–Hanley Ramirez/Mitch Moreland is a pretty good one to ride home about when you have Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Betts in the outfield.
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