EL notes: Devers delivers under spotlight

Top Red Sox prospect putting up big numbers in Double-A debut

Rafael Devers is hitting .333 with seven homers and 22 RBIs over his first 31 games with the Sea Dogs. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

By Craig Forde / Special to MiLB.com | May 17, 2017 11:00 AM ET

Third baseman Rafael Devers has been steadily emerging on Boston's prospect radar since he started with the organization as a 17-year-old in 2014.

With the departure of some of the organization's top talent in the offseason, coupled with the big club's need to fill a position that's been in limbo for years, the No. 1 Red Sox prospect has become the brightest blip on the screen following a hot start for Portland.

"I went through a lot last year, but hard work has paid off for me," said Devers, MLB.com's No. 14 prospect overall. "I'm happy to be able to start the season the way I have. But I need to continue to work and keep learning about the game."

Devers stumbled out of the gate at Class A Advanced Salem last season, hitting .138 in April and .245 in May before batting .328 the rest of the way. This year he's been able to start how he finished 2016, compiling a .333/.403/.604 line over his first 31 games at the Double-A level with seven homers, 22 RBIs and 21 runs scored.

Devers, who enjoyed his first trip to big league camp this past spring, chalks up last season's rough start, and the work it took to dig out from it, as a primary reason for his success this year.

"Having a tough first two months of the season last year and coming back and doing what I did in the second half was a good experience," he said. "I had to work extremely hard to get back on track, and I put in the work and it paid off for me. If I'm faced with the same situation, I'll know what to do to get out of it."

Video: Devers doubles in run for Sea Dogs

Now closer to Boston than ever, the 20-year-old Dominican has become a greater focus of the local media and, in turn, the Red Sox fans who would love to add more youthful talent to their core group currently at the big-league level.

Despite being four years younger than the Eastern League average, and the added pressure that comes with advancing to another level, Devers has taken it all in stride. Though he's still working to improve each day, and far from his pinnacle, Devers is ready should the call come sooner rather than later.

"It's a lot to say about a 20-year-old kid playing at this level and performing," said Sea Dogs manager Carlos Febles. "For me, he's one of the best players I've coached. That being said, I had the opportunity to coach Mookie [Betts] and [Andrew] Benintendi and [Yoan] Moncada, as well. He's a kid that brings it every day. He plays with joy. He's a hard worker, and he's great in the clubhouse. He's a guy everyone likes. He's such a talented kid, and has such a work ethic, that I feel like he will be an All-Star third baseman in the big leagues."

"I can only control what I can control," Devers said. "If the phone call comes, I think I'll be ready. If they make that decision, it's because they feel I'm ready. All I can control is just being myself and just play the game the same way I've been playing it, not try to do too much."

In brief

Off to the races: Binghamton has been stealing bases at an astonishing 89 percent success rate this season. Though they are second overall with 41 steals as a team -- Hartford leads the league with 45 -- the Rumble Ponies have only been caught stealing five times. Champ Stuart, Patrick Biondi and Kevin Kaczmarski are a combined 29-for-30 on attempts through 31 games. Stuart leads the league with 13 swipes, and Biondi sits second with 10.

Shaw regroups: Despite a 1-for-18 finish to April, Chris Shaw has recaptured his form at the plate for the Flying Squirrels. The Giants' No. 5 prospect is hitting .326/.412/.488, getting on base in 10 of 12 May games with five extra-base hits and eight RBIs. After solely playing first base his first two pro seasons, Shaw has seen time in left field as well this year, playing 13 games without an error in the outfield so far.

Smooth conversion: Orioles No. 11 prospect Tanner Scott, who continues to transition from the bullpen to the rotation, has shown solid, steady results through seven starts. The Baysox left-hander has pitched three innings in each of his starts, posting a 1.29 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Scott has struck out four or more batters in each of his outings and held opponents to a .092 batting average.

Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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