In 2013, Devers signed with the Red Sox (see Transactions below).
In 2013, after the regular season, Rafael turned a lot of heads with his power during the Instructional League.
In 2014, Baseball America rated Devers as the 20th-best prospect in the Red Sox organization. He was moved all the way up to #6 in the winter before 2015 spring training. And to second-best in the Red Sox farm system, behind only 2B Yoan Moncada. In 2017, Devers was #3, behind Andrew Benintendi and Moncada.
In 2015, Rafael was chosen by the Red Sox to play in the Futures Game. He played on the World Team and became the youngest Red Sox prospect, at age 18, ever to play in a Futures Game.
In 2017, Devers again represented the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures game.
Devers is a willing worker who displays impressive athleticism. And he stays on top of his conditioning.
As Rafael flew from Boston to Seattle to start his Major League career, the 3,000-mile journey felt like it would never end. Once it finally did, Devers quickly put on his Red Sox uniform with the Number 11 on the back. He then met with the media in the dugout and took batting practice at Safeco Field.
"You can imagine how happy I felt when I heard the news," Devers said through interpreter Daveson Perez. "It's something that I've dreamed about for a long time and I'm really happy. I just wanted to get here so bad. I didn't even fall asleep on the plane. I was just so excited to get here."
Devers vows that he won't let up.
"For me, the work is never done. I just want to learn how to be a superstar third baseman," Devers said. "Everyone tells me the only way to do that is through constant work, just like when you're hitting, you have to do constant work. They told me daily work at third base is going to make a difference, make me the superstar I want to be."
Perhaps so he can expend all his energy on his acclimation, Devers advised his parents not to join him in Seattle.
"The first people I called was my mom and my dad," said Devers. "And my dad got so excited that the first thing he said was, 'I'm booking a plane to go watch you play right now.' I told him hang on. When we're in Boston, we can work that out." (Browne - mlb.com - 7/24/17)
One of Devers' nicknames is "CARLITA." He said, "When we were younger and in the Dominican, we would always give each other nicknames. And I was the kid who was always smiling and happy, so they said we would call this kid Carlita, which means baby face."
Devers was given the nickname because he was so happy and smiling as a child.
July 16, 2019: Devers received the MLB Players Alumni Association Heart and Hustle award for the Red Sox. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
Devers hired a nutritionist during the winter before 2019 Spring Training, and also doubled down on his workouts, and arrived at camp looking like a different person.
"This started last year (2018)," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "He was a big part o what we did in October and then he goes home and at that age, decides to get a nutritionist and a personal trainer and was working on his defense, and to go to Fort Myers early—it shows a lot to us."
2019 season: Breakout season? Maybe. But nobody predicted Devers was going to go off to the degree that he did.
He had one of the best seasons in history for a 22-year-old. Devers became just the 10th player to hit .300 with 30-plus homers, 100-plus RBIs and 100-plus runs scored in a season before turning 23. Ted Williams, Jimmie Fox, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols each did it twice. Devers is the first to accomplish the feat since Miguel Cabrera in 2005.
The exciting thing is that Devers is still evolving, and the Red Sox likely haven’t seen what he is fully capable of just yet.
“I want to improve on everything,” said Devers. “Just because I had a good season this year doesn’t mean there aren’t things I can’t improve from defense to offense. I just want to improve everything going into next season.”
What went right? Quite a bit. Devers was a machine at the plate, hitting for average (.311), power (32 homers) and all those doubles (54).
“Overall, offensively, I feel like I’m proud of everything I’ve been able to do,” said Devers. “I give a lot of credit to Xander, who has helped me a lot with my preparation and just everything he’s been able to help me with. Just, offensively, I had a really good season and I think I was able to have an overall season that I’m really proud of.”
It was on defense where Devers made his best improvement. He became a liability at times last year, all too frequently making routine errors. After a tough first month in 2019, Devers cleaned it up the rest of the way and excelled in the field. Coaches Carlos Febles and Ramón Vázquez spent a lot of time working with Devers on his defense.
“It just all comes down to the experience [on] defense,” Devers said. “I know there were some errors I was making last year where I was just like, ‘Man, how did I make that?’ This season, I know I’ve improved. Obviously I’ve made some errors here and there. But I’ve just continued to learn on how to improve.”
What went wrong?
Devers isn’t disciplined at the plate on a consistent enough basis. Manager Alex Cora constantly talks about controlling the strike zone. When Devers isn’t able to do that, he gets exposed. For Devers to reach the level of Nationals star phenom Juan Soto, he needs to swing at his pitch, not the one at which the pitcher wants him to swing. Devers had 119 strikeouts and just 48 walks in 702 plate appearances.
Best moment: There were many great days from Devers in 2019, but it’s easy to find the one that tops the list. On Aug. 13, Devers went 6-for-6 with four doubles to help fuel the Red Sox to a 7-6 win over the Indians in 10 innings. The performance was historic, as Devers became the first player to record six or more hits and four or more doubles in the same game. (Ian Browne - MLB.com - Oct. 24, 2019)
Rafael, who lights up Red Sox Nation with his laser-beam hits, dramatic facial expressions and pure joy for the game, is entering his fourth season (2020, third full) as the starting third baseman in Boston.
“He’s fun. He’s like my little brother,” said Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez. “He's a little kid. Exactly how he looks like is how he is. He’s always wondering what is going on, talking to himself in the box. He’s just funny. He’s one of those people who is just harmless. He’s fun to be around."
After staying home to witness the birth of his second daughter in February 2020, Devers made his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins, going 0-for-2 in a 4-1 loss. With Devers back in the daily mix, things are instantly more joyful in Red Sox land.
“His personality is huge,” said Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke. “He’s another one of those guys like [Xander Bogaerts], he’s just in a good mood every day. He’s smiling all the time. I think probably people get a kick out of all his facial expressions that happen all through the game. But he really is a pleasure to be around.”
“He’s just got great talent,” Martinez said. “Great hands at the plate. He’s got a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. You can’t teach that.” (Browne - mlb.com - 2/28/2020)
His cousin, Jose, has played professionally in the Yankees (2017) and Marlins (2018-19).
If you watch Devers in the batter's box, he will talk to himself in-between pitches. He'll hit himself lightly with his bat if he thinks he swung at a bad one. His emotions come across quite clearly to those of us watching on TV.
In the field, he's often talking with the opposing third base coach or the opposing dugout.
- August 9, 2013: Devers signed with the Red Sox organization as an international free agent for a bonus of $1.5 million, via scout Manny Nanita.
- March 10, 2020: Devers signed a one year contract with the Red Sox for $692,500.
|Home:||San Isidro, Santo Domingo, DR||Team:||RED SOX|
|Birth City:||Sanchez, D.R.|
|Draft:||2013 - Red Sox - Free agent - Out of the D.R.|
Devers is a very good lefthanded hitter who consistently puts the barrel of the bat on the ball. He has strong hitting instincts and feel. His bat speed is impressive. He has a sweet, buggy-whip swing from the left side, plus bat speed and a knack for barreling the ball with authority. He uses a simple, loose, compact stroke that stays in the hitting zone, giving him excellent plate coverage and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. His loft and backspin allows him to hit the ball out of any part of the park.
His power, even at age 17, was listed at a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, with projection of a 70 power hitter when he's in his 20s, which has already come to pass. He has uncommon upside as a hitter. He even knows when to turn on pitches for pull power. He has power from pole to pole.
"I was always able to hit the ball hard," Rafael said in 2019. "Going into my second season, it was mostly just getting the fat part of the bat on the ball."
It's one thing to hit the ball hard. It's another to be able to hit it all over the yard. Nobody looks more comfortable than Devers hitting at Fenway Park. He can go the other way with ease and hit the ball off of, or over the Monster. And he has more than enough power to put one in the bullpen or into the bleachers. (Spring, 2020)
- Between every pitch, Rafael has adopted J.D. Martinez's routine of stepping out of the box to compose himself. He leans back, takes a deep breath and pulls air deep into his lungs. The he lets out a big exhale before stepping back in.
"I've worked with previous people in the organization that led me to some of my breathing techniques that I do now. But it's all about controlling myself. I know it.," Devers said.
Rafael has very good bat speed and a smooth, compact lefthanded swing. He can hit the ball to left-center (the opposite) field. He's going to be a solid middle-of-the-order hitter. Devers launches balls to any part of the park with a lefty swing that generates both loft and backspin.
Devers can hit anything. He hits righthanders, he hits lefthanders, he hits lefthanded breaking balls out of the zone and drives them. He has good bat speed, feel for the bat head, a level stroke—the whole deal. All the attributes to hit, they’re all right there. And the different sound off his bat is special. While Rafael appears to take a ferocious lefthanded rip, he manages to stay balanced throughout his swing.
He has the ability to manipulate the bat head and make contact on pitches out of the strike zone. He can pulverize a pitch on the inner half of the plate. He strikes out rarely. He has a level swing and average raw power, which could become above-average once he gets stronger.
Rafael needs to better control his energy and aggressiveness so he can stay within himself and be more consistent with the barrel. He's a guy who's really got to learn to be selective more often and get his pitch. When he gets his pitch, he often hits it hard.
2016 Batting Improvements: First half .233/.300/.335; second half .331/.371/.555.
Playing all year in the Carolina League at age 19, Devers began by hitting .138 with a .504 OPS in April. It got better in May, when he hit .248 with a .652 OPS, but he really got it going in June (.313 AVG with a .738 OPS). A 1.078 OPS in July, followed by a .845 OPS August capped off the year as Devers hit seven of his 11 home runs and drove in 40 runs in those two months. He ended up in the Carolina League's top 10 for both RBIs and SLG.
“The first month, Rafael had a slow start,” Salem hitting coach Nelson Paulino said. “He tried to do too much, too much effort with his body. His pitch recognition did not work. He was swinging mostly at pitchers’ pitches. He knows he’s got power. He had to be able to understand that he needed to pick good pitches to hit the ball. He was off-balance at the plate, trying to hit the ball too hard.”
Behind the scenes, the young lefthanded batter and Paulino went to work in the cages, working on letting the ball get deeper to improve pitch selection and emphasize Devers’ unusual ability to drive the ball to left and left-center field. (Alex Spiers - Baseball America - 9/02/2016)
August 3, 2017: Devers became just the fourth Red Sox player in the last 100 years to homer in at least three of his first eight MLB games. And the first to do so since Mo Vaughn in 1991.
Aug 19, 2017: Devers didn't call his own shot with his latest missile of a home run. But he did join a club in which the only other member is Babe Ruth. With his solo shot in the Red Sox's 4-3 loss to the Yankees, Devers joined the Bambino as the only players younger than 21 to hit homers in three straight games against the Bronx Bombers.
In 2017, Devers was named the MLB Pipeline's Hitting Prospect of the Year for the Red Sox.
October 8, 2017: Devers made history becoming the youngest player to hit a post-season home run for the Red Sox with his two-run shot off Houston's Francisco Liriano in Game 3 of the ALDS.
October 9, 2017: Devers' hit a ninth-inning, inside-the-park home run, nearly rallying the Red Sox in a wild ALDS game.
May 28, 2019: Devers is the only Red Sox player In history with an extra-base hit and a run scored In 7 straight games.
May 28, 2019: Devers has improved his walk rate from 7.8 percent to 8.9 percent, over last year 2018, while cutting his strikeout rate from 24.7 percent to 15.1 percent. This more controlled approach has yielded strong results in the batter's box, as he was batting .327/.388/.505 with seven homers and 31 RBIs through 53 games.
He's also been making an impact on the bases with seven steals—two more than all of 2018. With All-Star voting starting, Devers could find himself in his first All-Star game come July.
June 3, 2019: MLB selected Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers as the AL Player of the Month for May. It’s Devers’ first league distinction of his young career.
Devers, 22, paced the AL with 40 hits last month while slashing .351/.380/.640 for Boston. The third baseman compiled a career-best 11-game hit streak from May 19-31, and he surged into a tie with Josh Bell for the Major League lead with 93 hard-hit balls (those hit with exit velocities of 95-plus mph), per Statcast. Devers recorded an extra-base hit and scored a run in eight straight games from May 20-28 to tie a Red Sox record set by Dwight Evans in 1982, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Aug 13, 2019: Devers made history. The 22-year-old third baseman went 6-for-6 with four doubles, becoming the first player in Major League history to record six or more hits and four or more doubles in one game.
"I had no idea, obviously," said Devers. "I just try to go out there and have good at-bats, that's all I was thinking about. Just every turn, try to get on base, and just trying to do that for the team."
September 10, 2019: Rafael belted his 50th double of the season, making him just the eighth Red Sox player to reach the feat and also the youngest at 22 years old. “Yeah, it feels great,” Devers said. “Obviously I’m just thankful to be able to play this game and obviously just trying to finish strong. But it feels good to get that mark.” (Browne - mlb.com)
September 18, 2019: Rafael made it a special one, sending a 3-2 offering from Jeff Samardzija over the right-field wall for his 30th home run of the season. And with it, long list of milestones.
With his first home run in 12 games, Devers joins David Ortiz (2007) and Xander Bogaerts (2019) as the lone Red Sox to collect 30-plus home runs and 50-plus doubles in a season. At the same time, Devers and Bogaerts (who had reached the same milestone just a few days earlier, on Sept. 10) also became the first MLB teammates to accomplish the feat.
Sept 21, 2019: For 41 seasons, Butch Hobson held a little-known record in Red Sox history.
All of 22 years old, Rafael Devers broke it at Tropicana Field when he smashed his 31st homer of the season, the most ever by a Boston third baseman.
“It’s fun,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Like I’ve been saying all along, he did an outstanding job in the offseason to get in shape, to be ready for the grind, and he didn’t prove us wrong. I remember early in the season when the on-base percentage was up but he wasn’t driving the ball. A lot of people were doubting him, and he stayed with the process and controlled the strike zone. We’re very proud of him.”
And that led him to a record that he didn’t know about until after the game.
“This is actually the first time I’m hearing of this, so it’s pretty cool, but obviously it’s a record that I broke now but there’s more records I want to try to continue to break,” Devers said. “It’s just about trying to stay healthy and moving forward, trying to work as much as I can.” (I Browne - MLB.com - Sept 21, 2019)
2019 Season: This marks the 28th time in Red Sox history that a player has recorded 200+ hits in a season and Devers is the youngest to do so. Devers broke a franchise record held by Bogaerts for the most hits in a season by a player under the age of 23. Only 17 players in Major League history have had a 200-hit season before age 23.
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Rafael's career Major League stats were: .282 batting average, 92 doubles, 63 home runs, and 372 hits with 211 RBI in 1,319 at-bats.
Rafael has plenty of arm for third base. He has improved defensively and should stick at third base with decent range as well as soft hands and an above-average arm.
The Red Sox have traded many high-profile prospects but look wise for keeping Devers.
Scouts and managers raved about Devers’ quick feet, strong arm and soft hands at third base. They said he has a strong internal clock to make on-time throws.
No matter what Devers does at the plate, he doesn't take it with him on defense.
“He’s one of the best I’ve seen with his hands and the way he fields his position,” Salem manager Joe Oliver said. “The rough start (at the plate early in 2016) he got off to never transitioned to the other side of the ball."
Some scouts say Devers will end up at first base, because of his round body type. However, if Rafael is able to keep his body in check, then you’re looking at a legitimate third baseman.
He has wide hips that lead to concerns of future weight gain, but he has the body control, infield actions and light feet to stay at the hot corner.
He has a wide fanny, so he will always have to keep his round-body-type in check to stay at third base; otherwise, he would have to play first base. Some evaluators see the potential for a Pablo Sandoval-style defender.
Devers surprises evaluators with his athleticism and baseball IQ. But for some scouts, Rafael's wide frame signals a future at first base.
“He’s always been a strong, stocky kid, but his feet always moved lighter than they would appear,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero said in 2017 spring training. “He had good fundamentals in terms of squaring up to the ball . . . and he had good hands. He’s always had an above-average arm.
“So I thought those attributes, if he was able to stay physically strong without losing that flexibility . . . (that he would be able) to go side to side.”
August 28, 2017: With the bases loaded and one out and the Red Sox down by a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, Rafael was about to concede a run and nobody would have blamed him.
The grounder by Kevin Pillar was hit down the third-base line and Devers fielded it roughly 20 feet beyond the bag. His body was turned toward first, and Devers was about to fire across the diamond.
But the 20-year-old had the presence of mind to see Pillar was likely going to beat it out. So on the fly, Devers made a perfect throw home and nailed Josh Donaldson by half a step.
"My mentality initially was to go to first, but when I saw he was already halfway down the line, I went home with it," said Devers. "Basically I was thinking if the ball was hit hard to me, I would go for the double play. In that situation, the only play I had was to go home with it." (Browne - mlb.com)
- Rafael has about average speed. But he is a quality baserunner.
September 2014: Rafael sustained a stress fracture in his foot when turning his ankle on a slide in Instructional League. But he was expected to have a normal offseason after a typical four-to-six week recovery period.
July 11-21, 2018: Devers was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in the shoulder.
July 29-Aug 8, 2018: Devers was on the DL with left hamstring strain.
Aug 16-Sept. 4, 2018: Devers was back on the DL with a left hammy strain.