Is Rafael Devers Boston's next big prospect?

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

As the international signing period draws nearer, the Red Sox are focusing in on corner infielder Rafael Devers.

Let it not be said that the Red Sox' 2012 disaster did not come with its rewards. We all know, of course, about the blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers which freed up so much payroll and brought Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster into the Boston fold. Most are also aware that Boston will be picking quite early when the 2013 MLB draft gets underway.

What tends to go under the radar is that the Sox will also be bigger players on the international market thanks to their poor performance in 2012 and the new rules surrounding that market. 2013, after all, is the first year where a team's bonus pool is tied to their performance in the previous season, which leaves the Red Sox with the seventh biggest pool at a little under $3.2 million.

So where are the Red Sox planning to spend that? Right now it seems like Rafael Devers is their primary target. Over at Baseball America, Ben Badler offered up this scouting report of the corner infielder:

Devers might be the best hitter on the international market. With good bat speed and a compact lefty swing, Devers has strong hitting instincts and feel for putting the barrel to the ball. After going from 5-foot-11, 190 pounds in January up to around 6-foot-1, 215 pounds today, Devers has shown solid game power as well. He has the arm strength to play third base but given how much bigger scouts expect him to get, there's a chance he has to move to first base.

It's hard not to like the way that starts. "Best hitter on the international market" sounds pretty good. Having shipped off Anthony Rizzo to Chicago (via San Diego), the Red Sox haven't produced a first baseman since Kevin Youkilis, assuming you don't count Brandon Moss. While earlier scouting reports didn't seem to suggest Devers was the sort whose bat would necessarily shine at first, they also didn't expect much in terms of physical maturation. Given that Devers has jumped two inches and 25 pounds in a matter of months, those expectations should perhaps be re-evaluated.

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