Rafael Devers was born in 1996. He is 19, and will remain 19 until the season is over.
This is the context which all of Devers' achievements and struggles must be taken in, and this is the lead in you might expect for a much worse performance than Devers, who takes the third spot in our top-20 list, produced in 2015.
Coming into 2015, Devers had already established himself as a player to watch. In fact, he slipped into the fifth spot on the last list on the back of a season which saw him crush the competition at the DSL and GCL. That was back when Devers was playing with his peers age-wise, but clearly not talent wise. Or as close as you can get for someone his age.
2015 was different. In 2015, Devers made the jump to Greenville, and it wasn't quite as easy. Big performances in May and towards the season's end still left him with a respectable batting line of .288/.329/.443 in just over 500 plate appearances, but Devers no longer looked like he belonged in a league of his own. His developing power still showed through in both a decent handful of homers, but mostly in 38 doubles. He struggled to draw walks at the new level, which became problematic given a drop in batting average. His defense has received some positive reports, but is still a work in progress.
Why are the Red Sox starting Joe Kelly? Blame Ian Kennedy
Joe Kelly deserves another shot to start. Have you seen the alternatives?
Former Red Sox prospect can help avenge the Patriots in the Super Bowl
Shaq Thompson might have been an enemy if the AFC Championship Game had gone differently. But with his Panthers set to take on the Broncos and not the Patriots this coming Sunday, the former Red Sox prospect can help avenge the home of the team that once drafted him.
It was an imperfect year for Devers, which might be problematic if he weren't 3-to-4 years younger than the average South Atlantic League player. But he is. To the point where imperfect ends up impressive. Yes, that number is slightly disingenuous due to the journeymen just sort of hanging around. But this is the same league Andrew Benintendi ended up in after his promotion from Lowell. Even the real prospects making their way through the level are at least a year or two older than Devers. And he held his own.
It's gonna take a bit for the power to shine through in earnest. How much the rest of the package comes together will determine where Devers ends up on the Trumbo - Donaldson spectrum. And there's plenty of time left for him to keep climbing, climbing, climbing.
Alright, let's move on. Voting with recs in the comments as usual. I think by now you all know the drill, and why we're doing it this way instead of with the super easy polling method provided by the platform.
Grumble grumble grumble...