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Red Sox prospects daily: Rafael Devers is starting to mash

The 18-year-old has started to hit for power in May, and more from around the Red Sox' farm.

MLB.com

Low-A Greenville: Rafael Devers, 3B

Rafael Devers is just 18 years old, so seeing him have to take time to figure things out in his first go at full-season ball is expected. While he still has to work on recognizing offspeed pitches and reducing his strikeouts, he's been on fire since April began to turn into May, and has batted .400/.400/.771 with eight extra-base hits in his last eight games. Devers is now up to .324/.339/.476 on the season, and while you might be a bit worried about his two walks in 109 plate appearances, just remember the whole "18 and in full-season ball for the first time" thing.

Not convinced? Then recall that the Red Sox are currently debating among a trio of potential picks with the seventh overall selection in the 2015 MLB draft, and that two of them are 21 and in college and the third is 18 and unlikely to see full-season action until next summer at the earliest. Devers isn't perfect, but what he's done so far is special, even if it needs work.

There is a whole lot of season left for Devers, and in the course of eight games he already bumped his OPS for the year up by almost 200 points. He probably won't keep hitting like this forever, not while he's still vulnerable to secondaries, but it's probably safe to say his approach is working out for him. Refinements here and there to make him a bit more selective and to help him do more than just crush fastballs will come with time, and this teenager has plenty of it to work with.

Triple-A Pawtucket: Noe Ramirez, RHP

Ramirez was moved to relief full-time in 2014, and it's the place that fits him best. While he can occasionally flash a pretty good change-up and locate his fastball in the right places, his command isn't quite good enough for him to get away with his lack of an obvious out pitch over the course of multiple innings or times through a lineup.

Ramirez's entire pro career can be split up into the times he is giving up homers and the times he is not

He's succeeded to begin 2015 in large part because he's managed to keep the ball in the park, and so long as he keeps his fastball down, that should continue: Ramirez's entire pro career can be split up into the times he is giving up homers and the times he is not, with very little mixing of the two occurring.

To finish off his first pro season at Low-A Greenville in 2012, Ramirez gave up 10 homers over his final nine games and 50-2/3 innings after only giving up two homers in the previous 34. He avoided allowing a home run during his entire 47-inning run for High-A Salem, but then surrendered four of them in 15 appearances for Double-A Portland. In his second run with the Sea Dogs, Ramirez went the entire season without giving up a single dinger, and now, he's managed the same through his first 16 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket. If he can limit his walks -- which have never been a problem in the past -- Ramirez can continue to be something of a sleeper relief prospect in the Boston system.

Double-A Portland: Keury De La Cruz, LF

Keury dominated April to the tune of .282/.378/.564, but curiously, as the Eastern League warmed up, De La Cruz's bat cooled off. His May has featured a whole lot more swing-and-miss in his game, with 15 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances following just five in 45 in April, and if De La Cruz keeps on striking out, then there isn't much to see here even as far as a future bench outfielder goes.

Prospects on the bubble don't have a whole lot of margin for error, and saying De La Cruz is on the bubble is probably being generous. This is a guy stuck in left field who needs to hit to have value, and if he can't solve Double-A pitching in his second season at the level at 23 years old, it's fair to wonder if he'll ever do so enough to get some prospect status back.

Even if De La Cruz does turn things around and return to his more successful April ways, you're still looking at a future bench guy if anything. That's not to discredit Keury or his potential future, but just so you can understand the context surrounding this player who occasionally flashes some serious power.

High-A Salem: Teddy Stankieiwcz, RHP

Teddy Stankiewicz still isn't striking anyone out, but that's okay. He's not walking anyone, either, and he's inducing plenty of grounders. He's not an extreme ground ball pitcher by any means, but he's close enough to getting them on half of his balls in play that, when combined with his excellent control, he's been able to succeed. Remember, too, that Stanky is just 21 years old and facing off against High-A batters: your average Carolina League pitcher is 23, and the average hitter is just a few months younger than that. Stankiewicz is succeeding against older, more experienced competition, and while there are things he could be doing better, this is a solid foundation to build on.

Stankiewicz can throw strikes, and the lack of homers against him suggests he's capable of throwing quality ones, too. He's still relying an awful lot on the defense behind him for a guy who is going to give up fly balls, though, so a few more swings and misses here and there could do him a lot of good in the long run. He's all of 32 innings and six starts into his first run at High-A, though, and as mentioned he's still plenty young for the level, so let's patiently wait for him to do something productive with hitters' impatience against him.