Coming into his first full Minor League season, Rafael Devers was seen as a power hitter. During his first month with Class A Greenville, he worked on his approach and hitting for average. On Sunday, he showed he can do both.
The Red Sox's fifth-ranked prospect eradicated most of his career highs as he went 5-for-6 with a pair of homers and five RBIs in the Drive's 14-4 rout of Hagerstown at Municipal Stadium.
"He was swinging the bat extremely well today. Obviously, the line speaks for itself, but his timing was really good and he was getting the bat down," Greenville manager Darren Fenster said. "Even the one at-bat where he did make an out, he squared up a ball, lining out to the shortstop, so he's made some really good strides in the early going and finally enjoyed some positive results."
Devers lined to shortstop David Masters before squaring up pitches in each of his next five at-bats to set a career high for hits. MLB.com's No. 93 overall prospect doubled to center in the fourth, singled to right in the fifth and doubled to right in the seventh for his third three-hit game of the season.
But after 18 games without leaving the yard, it was time for the 18-year-old third baseman to break out. In the eighth, Devers drilled a one-out solo shot over the center field wall for his first full-season dinger. An inning later, he came up with the bases loaded and two outs and smashed his second career grand slam.
"He got some good loft under it and it carried over the fence," Fenster said of Devers' first homer. "His grand slam in the ninth inning was just a line drive shot that went off the back wall of the bullpen. He just really got the barrel through quickly, stayed through well and the ball carried out as well.
"Just one of those days where he was really locked in and whatever they were giving him, he was going to get the barrel to it quickly."
With his second career multi-homer game, Devers also recorded personal bests with five RBIs and four runs scored.
While focusing on his approach, the left-handed hitter from the Dominican Republic has a .329 average with six extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. He's struck out 12 times in 19 South Atlantic League games.
"Everyone, I'm sure, was really waiting for him to get into one and hit his first home run of the year," Fenster said. "But he has really focused on staying down and through the ball, working in the middle of the field and understanding that the home runs will take care of themselves if he has a good approach and if he gets his timing right."
The manager added that Devers' passion for the game and drive to improve reminds him of Manuel Margot, the organization's No. 6 prospect who played for Fenster last season.
Greenville totaled 18 hits after scratching out one in the first two innings. The Drive scored at least one run in each of the final seven frames.
"It's been a point of emphasis from us to say, regardless of the score, good or bad, close or lopsided, we're going to control the things we can control and give our best competitive focus the whole way," Fenster said. "And we've done an outstanding job of that, which is really good to see, especially with a really young team here."
Reliever Chandler Shepherd (3-0) snagged the win, allowing one hit and striking out two over three scoreless innings.
Andrew Cooper (0-2) yielded four runs on six hits in two frames out of the Hagerstown bullpen.