After a bit of a slow start to his young Major League Baseball career, Rafael Devers showed up in 2019.
And MLB.com took notice.
MLB.com’s Matt Kelly has Devers listed as the fifth-most surprising infield standout for last season. The Boston Red Sox youngster made major strides at third base, where he made some of his biggest offseason improvements between 2018 and 2019, after struggling at the position the previous two seasons.
Here’s what Kelly had to say about the 23-year-old:
The Red Sox have spoken in prodigious terms about Devers? bat for years, and that certainly bore out in 2019, when the 22-year-old paced the Majors in both total bases and hard-hit balls in play. But they were also more optimistic on his glove than just about everyone else, even though Devers looked overmatched at third in the ?17 and ?18 seasons.
… Devers looked determined to bring those tools to the fore last season, and the difference was visible. He improved his throwing mechanics as the season progressed, lowering his error count with the arm from 12 in 2018 to 8 last year. And Devers? 70 out-of-zone plays (via FanGraphs) paced all third basemen alongside Josh Donaldson, giving him a positive UZR for the first time. That hinted at his big OAA reveal from Statcast this month, fueled by a sizeable improvement on bang-bang plays to his left. If he can maintain this level on defense, the Sox have the superstar they envisioned for half a decade.
Will Devers put together another solid season for the Red Sox? We’ll see when Boston’s 2020 season kicks off March 26.