Devers' path to bigs begins at Futures Game

July 6th, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- Given the way Rafael Devers has raked the baseball for Double-A Portland this season, it might not be long before he can put his sweet left-handed swing to the test at Fenway Park, spraying the ball off the Green Monster or bashing one into the bullpen in right-center.
Although there is no definitive timetable for when the No. 1 Red Sox prospect gets his promotion to the Major Leagues, he will be on a national stage today.
The 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place at 4 p.m. ET at Marlins Park in Miami and can be viewed live on MLB Network and
The 20-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic has put it all together for Portland this season, slashing .302/.367/.586 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs.
:: 2017 Futures Game coverage ::
Given Boston's lack of production at third base this season, there is great interest in when Devers might be able to help. For now the Red Sox are focused on Devers completing his development. The next step will be a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, which is expected to happen soon.
"Well, he's real close [to Triple-A]," said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "He's really continued to make strides. The reports have been fairly consistent. We know he's swinging the bat well, but ... we're reluctant to move too fast with him. We'd much rather prefer that he just continue to progress as he has and stay on that course rather than force-feed it and jump too far ahead of ourselves."
Though the Red Sox won't rush Devers, it is worth noting that an appearance in the Futures Game can be a sign that a player isn't all that far from Fenway.
In 2013, shortstop played in the Futures Game at Citi Field. Six weeks later he was with the Red Sox, and he's been on the roster ever since. Last summer, outfielder played in the Futures Game at Petco Park. He was called up to the Majors two weeks later and is now a cornerstone in manager John Farrell's lineup.
"Rafael has continued to make steady progress on both sides of the ball," said Ben Crockett, Boston's director of player development. "He is a hard worker who really cares about getting better each day."
Devers has made a big leap this season, already smashing seven more homers at Double-A than he did all of last season at Class A Salem. His 28 walks in 278 at-bats are just 12 fewer than he had in 503 at-bats last season.
"His approach at the plate keeps getting more consistent as he understands who he is as a hitter and what pitchers are trying to do to him," said Crockett. "Overall this year he's capitalized on mistakes and done a great job not trying to do too much, something that's helped him not miss mistakes made by the pitcher."
Although Devers has always been known for his big bat, he keeps getting better on defense as well, and last season he was named the top defender in Boston's farm system.
"I think he continues to get better in all facets of his defensive game," said Crockett. "He is really committed to Andy Fox's infield program and daily work. His defense is something we've continued to recognize, and between his work with Darren Fenster two years ago, Angel Berroa in 2016 and [Portland manager] Carlos Febles this year, he's made big strides."
What does Devers need to accomplish to complete his development in the Minors?
"Rafael just needs continued exposure to upper-level competition, where he can be consistent with his offensive approach, keep learning some of the situational nuances of upper-level play on both sides of the ball and see how opponents are attacking him," said Crockett.
As today, that will be Devers' reward for what he has already accomplished.
"This is a great experience for players to be honored for great play and recognized as up-and-coming prospects in the game," Crockett said. "Getting that kind of exposure and attention, getting to play on a bigger stage than we can provide in a standard Minor League environment are beneficial.
"Everything we do is about development and preparing Minor League players for what they'll face in Boston, and the environment, atmosphere, media and attention are things that this game provides that are otherwise tough to replicate."