SEATTLE (AP) — The Boston Red Sox are giving highly touted prospect Rafael Devers a day to get acclimated to big league life. Then, he’s expected to make his first start in the majors — against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.
Hoping to get more production at third base, the AL East leaders called up the 20-year-old Devers on Monday after just nine games at Triple-A Pawtucket.
“You can imagine how happy I felt when I heard the news,” Devers said through a translator. “It’s something that I’ve dreamed about for a long time and happy that it happened.”
The left-handed hitting Devers wasn’t in the starting lineup Monday night against tough lefty James Paxton. It was anticipated Devers would start Tuesday night at third base, facing Hernandez.
“We’re looking forward to a young, exciting prospect joining this team,” manager John Farrell said. “We’ll look to hit him down in the bottom third of the order and, as we did with a number of guys when they first came up, probably play him against right-handers initially, ease him in against some left-handers when you feel like the matchup is there.”
Devers hit .300 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 77 games with Double-A Portland, then hit .400 with two homers in his abbreviated stint at Pawtucket.
“He’s got a lot of bat potential and we’ll take the production he provides us,” Farrell said. “We also recognize his age and his experience level, there’s going to be some ups and downs along the way, and that would be totally expected.”
The Red Sox have a need at third after releasing veteran third baseman Pablo Sandoval on July 14 after 2 ½ disappointing seasons. Boston has tried fill-ins at the spot, too. Division rival New York acquired third baseman Todd Frazier last week from the Chicago White Sox.
Devers said tthe Red Sox have not placed any expectations on him.
“No pressure,” he said. “Like I said before, it’s the same baseball for me and I’m just going to play it with the same fun that I’ve always played it with. So, no pressure, just take it one day at a time.”
Devers said he is looking forward to making his debut against Hernandez.
“Of course I admire him because he’s a pitcher who’s won (a Cy Young Award) and to be able to face him and watch him pitch is an awesome experience,” he said.
Although Devers was named the Red Sox minor league defensive player of the year in 2016 when he led the High-A Carolina League in fielding percentage for third basemen, his defense remains a work in progress. He committed 12 errors with Portland and four at Pawtucket.
“We know that we’re going to have to protect him a little bit,” Farrell said. “But, at the same time, here’s a guy that’s 20 years old, he’s in the big leagues, playing a position where he you can’t hide. And, we’re going to put him out there. Hopefully he continues to do what he did in Portland and Pawtucket, and that is make an impact with the bat.”