Rafael Devers Grows Into Power

Best Player

The Red Sox wouldn’t budge when other teams requested Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers in trades last offseason. They had no such reservations about top talents Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, who they traded to the White Sox for Chris Sale.

Devers has rewarded Boston’s faith at Double-A Portland. The long-projected power has become present power for the the 20-year-old. He hit a career-high 14 home runs—including nine to left or center field—through 66 games while hitting .291/.354/.550.

“When he wants to hit the ball the other way, he hits it—and he doesn’t just hit it, he drives it,” Portland manager Carlos Febles said. “You’re talking about David Ortiz type of power.”

While some evaluators question Devers’ range at third base because of his heavier build, Red Sox evaluators continue to speak highly of a player with quick feet, average speed, good range and a strong work ethic.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested Devers is “real close” to moving to Triple-A Pawtucket, and contributions in the big leagues this year are a possibility.

Biggest Leap Forward

Third baseman Michael Chavis promising start to 2016—his second year at low Class A Greenville—was quickly derailed, first by a sprained thumb ligament and then by a broken finger tip.

The 2014 first-round Georgia prep returned this spring not only with healthy hands but also a more focused offensive approach, in which he maintained a notebook chronicling every at-bat in hopes of making his runs of success more sustainable while also emphasizing a need to maintain a compact swing.

In the first half of 2017, the results were stunning. Chavis hit .318/.388/.641 with a career-high 17 homers through 59 games at high Class A Salem, earning a promotion to Double-A. He also improved his contact rate, allowing his plus raw power to play.

“I saw him since spring training focus on his swing path,” Salem hitting coach Nelson Paulino said. “This year, he’s got more body control. That’s why he’s been more direct and more confident with two strikes. He can recognize pitches better because his body control is better and his swing is compact now. “

Though Chavis faces positional questions, evaluators increasingly view him as a player whose bat will carry him to a big league opportunity.

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