High-A Salem: Rafael Devers, 3B
Rafael Devers has had a tough start to 2016 and High-A ball, but Wednesday night was a positive one. Devers hit his second homer of the year and first since April 10, and he added a double and a walk to that as well. It's just one game, but Devers is all of 19 years old in a league where the average position player is almost 22.5 years of age. We can cut him some slack and hope this is the start of something more significant.
Devers hasn't been striking out too much -- just 17 percent on the year -- or exhibiting an overly patient approach that could harm him. Lefties have been absolutely killer on him so far, though, as the left-handed Devers has batted just .105/.320/.105 against them in 11 games and 25 plate appearances. It's mostly something to watch from the young third baseman rather than something to be alarmed by -- it's not like he's hit righties too well yet, either.
We knew that Devers would eventually hit a wall at some point in his minor-league career, and High-A might be where it sits. That on its own is not a bad thing: what matters now is how the talented teenager responds to this challenge.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Kyle Martin, RHP
The 6-foot-7 Kyle Martin spent last summer at Double-A, and now finds himself in Pawtucket where he continues to be used in the relief role that he's been in since the Sox drafted him in the ninth round of the 2013 draft. He's yet to issue a walk and has struck out 11 batters in his 10 innings of work, but the hits have been coming often, with 14 of them already.
Martin should be able to solve this, but he's a relief prospect whose ceiling isn't clear cut just yet, too: is he going to be a major-league contributor? The kind of player who bounces up-and-down until he runs out of options? A minor-league lifer? Triple-A won't answer all of that for us, but it's the first step on the journey to finding out.
High-A Salem: Jordan Procyshen, C
Jordan Procyshen is currently on the seven-day minor-league disabled list, but when he's playing, he's a potential big-league catcher thanks to his defense. Sox Prospects ranked him 39th in the system because of this, saying he has potential as a "plus defender" and "could make a big league roster as a backup/emergency type who will add value with his defense and hold his own at the plate."
Those kinds of players are important! Rewind to 2015, when the Red Sox had to trade for Sandy Leon to help them out when Christian Vazquez went down with an injury in the spring. It would have been good to have someone like Procyshen just sitting there waiting for an opportunity. So, we'll keep an eye on him -- once he's back, anyway -- to see how the bat progresses. If he does enough at the plate, then that emergency catcher designation will move closer to backup.
Low-A Greenville: Kyri Washington, OF
The Red Sox drafted Washington in the 23rd round last summer, and we labeled him as one of the 10 most fascinating picks they made on day three. Washington is all about ceiling, and his floor is terrifyingly low. He projects to hit for in-game power with the right adjustments, and if he develops an approach and ability to recognize more advanced pitches, then there will be something there. That's a lot of ifs, though, hence the low floor.
Washington ranked 149th on Baseball America's pre-draft prospect list for a reason, though, and it's because they described his tools as "loud." This is why the Sox drafted him in the 23rd round instead of earlier: there is real potential for Washington to become nothing, but if he can improve in the relevant areas, there will be a baseball player here. He's starting out right, as he's batting .304/.324/.652 with five homers already for Low-A Greenville. More important than the start, though, is how he'll adjust when pitchers inevitably catch up to his power by focusing on his lack of patience and strike zone awareness.