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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Rafael Devers could be Red Sox’s next superstar

Rafael+Devers+of+the+Boston+Red+Sox.

Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox.

Nobody would mistake him for an Armani model, with his stocky 6 feet, 240-pound build. But there might not be a single pitcher in Major League Baseball who does not fear the power in the swing of Rafael Calcano Devers. The stocky 24-year-old has rocketed to the verge of superstardom since making his big-league debut in 2017. He has a batting average of .277 with an .833 OPS, and averages more than 30 home runs and 100 RBIs per 162 games in his young career, terrific stats for someone who should still be adjusting to the rigors of the major leagues. And he may not have even reached his peak just yet.

Born in the city of Sanchez in the Dominican Republic, Devers, like many kids born in the Dominican Republic, dreamed of reaching the majors to escape the pervasive poverty on the island. His dream would come true in August 2013, when the Boston Red Sox signed him as an amateur free agent. Devers immediately tore up the Red Sox’s Dominican Summer League, slashing .337/.445/.538 in 2014. He continued to rake in the Sox’s minor leagues, going from low-A Greenville to high-A Salem, to Double-A Portland in just a couple years. In 2017, he began the year in Portland, before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. He got his call to the majors when the Red Sox released free agent bust Pablo Sandoval, and all of a sudden, they needed a new starting third baseman. Devers would not disappoint.

On August 13, Devers hit a home run against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, tying the game in the ninth inning, and the Sox would go on to win in extras. In that year’s American League Division Series against Houston, Devers hit a go-ahead home run into the right field bullpen at Fenway Park, making him the youngest Red Sock to ever homer in the postseason, and one of only a handful of major leaguers to homer in the playoffs before their 21st birthday. Devers began 2018 as the Red Sox’s everyday third baseman, but he endured a significant sophomore slump, seeing his batting average tumble to just .240, and struggling mightily in the field. However, Devers saved his best baseball for October, as he blasted a three-run home run off Astros ace Justin Verlander in Game Five of the ALCS, sending the Red Sox to the World Series. In Game 4 against the Dodgers, Devers knocked a base hit up the middle, scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth, in a game the Sox would hold on to win. They would go on to win the title the next night.

Devers finally broke out in a big way in 2019, hitting .311 with a .916 OPS, hitting 32 home runs while driving in 115, and led the entire majors in total bases with 359. He would slump somewhat in 2020, hitting .263 with disappointing but still-solid .793 OPS in the shortened season.

Devers joins a long line of Dominican superstars who’ve made their name in Boston, which has one of the largest and most vibrant Dominican communities in America. Some notables from the isle include: Pedro Martinez, the electric fireballer who enthralled crowds at Fenway for years; Manny Ramirez, known as much for his confusing antics as his legendary power and complete hitting; and, of course, the beloved “Big Papi” David Ortiz, one of the greatest postseason hitters in baseball history and without a doubt the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history. Devers is still just 24 years old, but he has still made a big impact, and has plenty of time for his Fenway legend to grow.
 

About the Contributor
Jack Sherman, Sports Writer