Red Sox may be tempted to rush third base prospect Rafael Devers

Jul 12, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; World infielder Rafael Devers grabs a ground ball against the U.S. Team during the All Star Futures Game at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 12, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; World infielder Rafael Devers grabs a ground ball against the U.S. Team during the All Star Futures Game at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox lack consistency at third base and power in the lineup. Could rushing Rafael Devers be a solution to both problems?

When is it the time to rush a player? Mixed results have a tendency to show that the call can flop or be quite successful. Last season the Boston Red Sox did a bypass of Triple-A with Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. Moncada did nothing and Benintendi gave a “wow” impression. Mookie Betts also made such a jump and that worked out rather well.

Occasionally a player will simply go directly to the majors without a minor league stop. Most have a notable college background. Some, such as Sandy Koufax, were forced onto the roster over a rather archaic bonus rule. The financial incentive can be a motivator to rush a player and David Clyde is such an example. The need to pump up attendance shot Clyde from high school to the majors.

That, however, is unusual as most players will toil in the minors as they refine their game. The decision can be fateful since the fragile psyche of a youthful player may be damaged by rapid advancement. The Red Sox will now be pondering just how quickly they move Rafael Devers along.

Devers is the number one prospect in the system and that is the result of attrition via trades. Devers the 15th ranked player in MLB Prospect Watch – a nice indicator of future fast track. Devers is expected to eventually make a major league appearance and with the whiff of desperation in the air, it may happen by mid-season.

"Devers’ signature tool is his prodigious power to all fields, the product of impressive bat speed and strength. He’s more than just a slugger, however, which he proved yet again with his ability to make adjustments in high Class A. While he can get aggressive at the plate, he recognizes pitches well for his age and understands he’s at his best when he tries to drive the ball from gap to gap and just lets his power come naturally. – MLB Prospect Watch"

Devers brings one item of note – developing power. This lad is a rather large specimen who is just getting stronger and more comfortable driving the ball. A left-handed power hitter who was signed as an international free agent in 2013.

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The now 20-year-old certainly exhibited ups and downs since starting his jaunt through the Red Sox system in 2014 – most notably a stress fracture in his right ankle. The other most notable – at least for me – is hitting just .136 in spring training this season. For his minor league career, Devers has a quite respectable .295 average entering the day.

This season has been the proverbial breakout year for Devers as his power numbers and average are on the rise in Portland in the Double-A Eastern League. The topping was a recent two home run and five for five-game that was noticed. Is it a defining moment in his young career?

Devers plays third base and while not Gold Glove material is competent enough and third is a Boston concern. Pablo Sandoval will remain a question mark until he proves himself durable and capable at both offense and defense. Brock Holt may – sadly – be finished if his vertigo cannot be alleviated. Another rehab will be crucial. Other options are a stop-gap.

"Doesn’t look pretty, but can make the plays at third base. Limited range and on the stiff and rigid side when fielding ground balls. Will be given every chance to stick at third, but could move across the diamond to first base eventually. – Sox Prospects"

The second point of importance is hitting – especially hitting with power as in raining doubles and home runs. Devers can certainly give that, but then comes the notorious caveat – being ready.

The Red Sox are in no hurry to rush Devers, but if his bat continues to resonate with power Devers could actually force the issue. My assumption is he will stay tethered to Portland for the foreseeable future and then possibly move to Pawtucket and Triple-A. But a “hot” Devers could take those plans and dissolve them just as Betts did.

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Devers is undoubtedly the future at third base for Boston unless Dave Dombrowski gets another trading itch and send him packing. Unless another Chris Sale clone is involved in such a transaction Devers should stay just where he is, hit a ton, and force Boston’s hand.