Red Sox: What’s the possibility Rafael Devers debuts in 2017?


Examining the prospects of when Rafael Devers will complete his way through the minor leagues and onto the Red Sox major league roster.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the prospects of how Pablo Sandoval will contribute to the Red Sox lineup following a tumultuous first two years in Boston, one can speculate on the timetable of the organization’s next highly-rated prospect, third baseman Rafael Devers.

Although two years younger than left fielder Andrew Benintendi, both debuted their 2016 seasons at Class-A advanced Salem. Benintendi obviously vaulted himself to Double-A and straight onto Boston in the last few months of the season. Devers overcame a down first-half and rebounded, finishing with 11 HR, 71 runs batted in and a .282 average.

Devers will begin the season at Double-A Portland, per Christopher Smith of

While Benintendi’s ascent came at a year older than Devers will be entering the 2017 season, the ability for Devers to play at a high level at a young age is something the Red Sox and Dave Dombrowski cannot ignore.

So, when will we see Devers?

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That decision plays into a couple factors, the first being the play of Sandoval. With that, how the Red Sox perform with Sandoval on the field.

Everyone knows Sandoval’s numbers in the first two years, and if you don’t, you know they aren’t especially warming.

126 games in 2015, only three in ’16 — 10 HRs, 47 runs batted in and .242 BA to count.

If Sandoval has a trifecta of disappointing seasons but stays healthy, while the team has a down year, the Red Sox will inevitably ride him out before deciding what to do following the season’s conclusion.

On the other hand, should Sandoval have another terrible season and the Red Sox are in contention come the middle of August, Devers’ chances of being called up later in the year could exponentially increase, depending on how he plays as well.

Also, I wouldn’t expect the Red Sox to make a deal at the deadline for a corner infielder with Devers next down the line, given the depleted farm system from this offseason’s trades.

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Brock Holt could be an option everyday at third base, but given that 2017 will be Holt’s fourth full year in Boston, the Red Sox may view him as he has been the last three years — a super-utility that plays almost every position, but not almost every day.

A final option could be recently-signed third baseman Mike Olt, should he be able to make drastic improvements hitting major league hitting and earns a shot after spending time with AAA Pawtucket. Once a highly-regarded prospect in the Rangers’ system, the New England native is only hitting .168 over 135 major league games spanning three years.

My best guess for Devers?

Count on him coming up in the first couple months of the 2018 season. Devers will have a more complete year in 2017 than what 2016 was for the young infielder. As he will not turn 21 until October, the Red Sox may not be willing to rush him and risk stunting his development like they learned from rushing Yoan Moncada.

The Red Sox will ride Sandoval for what he gives them, as long as he’s healthy. With five years and $95 million worth of expectations on the table, Dombrowski will be evaluating both Sandoval and Devers carefully.

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Should Devers show Dombrowski he can handle the direct jump from Double-A to the bigs, and should Sandoval show the organization he can’t rebound and be the player he was in San Francisco, don’t be surprised if he’s is called up as a September call-up and possibly in the middle of a pennant race.