The votes are in, and once again it wasn’t very close. After Andrew Benintendi (unsurprisingly) ran away with the top spot in our poll, Rafael Devers has (unsurprisingly) taken the second spot in convincing fashion. The 20-year-old took 77 percent of the vote. This is in line with just about every other ranking of the Red Sox farm system.
Devers has monster potential at the plate from the left side. He has a smooth, easy swing that he controls extremely well through the plate. The young third baseman projects for a plus hit tool as well as plus power. At the start of his professional career, it was almost assumed that he’d eventually have to move off the hot corner. It wasn’t a huge concern if he’d have to shift to first base, since his bat could play anywhere, but obviously staying at third is preferable. Now, a move isn’t so certain. While Devers isn’t going to take home any Gold Gloves, he has shown an ability to make enough of the plays. Some scouts like him better than others in the field, but even that is an improvement over his previous evaluations.
Sometimes, it takes a while for young prospects to have their numbers match the scouting reports. That is not the case for Devers, who has mashed throughout his pro career. He did get off to a bit of a slow start with High-A Salem last year -- hitting .151/.262/.280 through his first 25 games -- but he was also a 19-year-old playing at least a level above where prospects his age typically play. He quickly turned things around, though, hitting .312/.353/.480 in his final 103 games.
In 2017, it’s expected that Devers will be spending the majority of the year at Double-A Portland. This is generally the hardest jump to make in the minors, so another early-season slump wouldn’t be a huge surprise. As we’ve seen, he has the tools and acumen to quickly adjust to any early issues, however. Devers is quickly emerging as an elite prospect, and one should expect this to be the year he breaks through and starts to earn the national headlines that were given to Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi. He may not be quite on the level, given his defensive question marks, but the dude can straight-up mash. That he plays in the same position that could emerge as a major question mark on the major-league roster could mean there’s an outside chance we see Devers in Boston as quickly as this summer.
Now, we move on to the number three spot. Things should start to get closer as we move further down this list, possibly starting as soon as this spot.