This series will look at prospects and show whether they are worth an investment on your fantasy team. Every owner knows that the secret to a strong minors system is knowing who to throw away and knowing who to keep. Each player featured in this series will be given one of the following recommendations:
- Hold ’em : If you own this prospect, hang tight. While times may seem rough, the talent is worth holding onto.
- Fold ’em : If you own this prospect, now is the time to sell while they may still have some name value.
- Walk Away: This prospect is not worth paying attention to in your league.
- Run: Get to the waiver wire immediately and put a claim in for this prospect
It was reported over the weekend that Rafael Devers was going to be promoted to the Gulf Coast League, after debuting in the Dominican Summer League. It appears now that he is waiting for a travel visa before he will arrive in the United States. Just 17 years old, in many leagues it is too early to use a roster spot on this left-handed hitting third base prospect, but in the case of two of my leagues, it is already too late. I drafted Devers in a start up keeper league with pick #543 this year, and just recently drafted him in one league’s June amateur draft with the 8th pick overall (with the 2014 draftees eligible and all unlisted signed minor league players).
Here is a look at Devers from the crew at SoxProspects.com from Spring Training of this year:
The Past: Rafael Devers was signed in 2013 by the Boston Red Sox for $1.5 million, having been ranked the 3rd best international prospect by industry expert Ben Badler. The third baseman was just 16 years old, already showing a beautiful left-handed swing.
In an interview in August of 2013, Red Sox international scouting director Eddie Romero said:
“We’re excited. We feel that he’s a pretty advanced hitter. The bat is what drew us most right away. Our area scout Manny Nanita did a great job of evaluating him early and bringing him in so that we could get multiple looks at him. We just felt comfortable that this was one of the better hitters available in this year’s international market. We’re projecting him to be a third baseman with a great feel to hit. He’s a very hard worker, he’s a tremendous kid.”
Devers has outstanding bat speed and very good (advanced) pitch recognition. He drives the ball to all fields and has plus power potential. Signed as a 5’11”, 195 lb ballplayer, Devers is listed currently at 6’1″, 215lbs. There is concern that he could outgrow third base, but his bat should play at first or left field.
Here’s a look from the Perfect Game World Showcase in 2013:
Heading into 2013, Devers was really too young to be ranked on any Top 100 prospect list. Devers won’t appear in my Top 50 Midseason prospect list either, but he’s an exciting prospect to watch, and one who may be highly coveted as soon as next year. So far this year in the Dominican Summer League, Devers is punishing opposing pitchers with a 1.048 OPS. Once his travel visa is worked out, Devers will face the challenges of the GCL; not only the more advanced competition, but playing away from his home in the Dominican Republic.
Rafael Devers is about 4 years away from a major league debut with the Boston Red Sox. Obviously a lot could go wrong between now and then, but the same could be said of any young prospect. What is most impressive about Devers is his bat speed and his ability to make hard contact to all fields. He’s extremely advanced for his age, and could follow a similar path as Xander Bogaerts, debuting in A ball at the age of 18 years old. Compare that to a player like Clint Frazier, highly regarded among scouts, signed out of high school, who is in A ball now at 19 years old (and struggling). Players selected in the June amateur draft rightfully garner a lot of attention in fantasy leagues, but it is prudent to check past years international signings at the same time. I would rank Devers ahead of any other 2013 signing, though I also roster Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres in a very deep league. There is a ton of projection with Rafael Devers, but he is one of favorite watches now and I’m gambling that my early grabs will pay off greatly in the future. Recommendation: Run.
Other Prospect Notes:
Jesse Biddle, SP, Philadelphia Phillies. Biddle allowed 10 runs in 3 innings on Monday, just 5 days after it looked like maybe he was going to turn the corner. His ERA sits at 5.03 for the season, but even more worrisome is his 40 walks allowed in 78.2 innings pitched. Biddle has maintained nearly a strikeout per inning, but he’s not looking like anything more than a back-end starter at this point. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #88. Recommendation: Walk Away.
Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks. Bradley is back after nearly two months with elbow soreness. His first rehab start went well on Saturday, throwing 4 innings and striking out 6. While 2013 seems like a nearly lost season for the top prospect, this may be the last opportunity to buy him at a discounted price. The lost time has prevented his call up, as I predicted here, but there’s still plenty of time for Bradley to make his mark in 2014. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #11. Recommendation: Run.
Mark Appel, SP, Houston Astros. A rough start from Appel to the 2014 season, Appel pitched reasonably well on Sunday, going 5 innings allowing 6 hits, 3 earned runs, no walks and striking out 2 batters. His 6 first starts to the season netted an 11.93 ERA with 33 hits and 23 earned runs in 17 innings. The first pick overall from the 2013 draft may not have an ace ceiling but he’s a good bet to be a fantasy contributor as soon as next year. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #33. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em
Robert Stephenson, SP, Cincinnati Reds. After a rough three game stretch, where Stephenson walked 12 batters and gave up 10 runs in just 12 innings, Stephenson righted the ship on Sunday with 7 solid innings. Stephenson hasn’t been lights out this year as expected, but he’s maintained his K rate of 24% while holding hitters to a .203 average against. If his owner has become impatient, you should make a play for him now. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #17. Recommendation: Run.
Garin Cecchini, 3B/OF, Boston Red Sox. With Felix Doubront recalled over the weekend, Cecchini was optioned to Pawtucket where he’s seeing game action in…. left field. I blame it all on Stephen Drew, but the outfield will certainly add some nice versatility to a team lacking in outfield production. Unfortunately, Cecchini hasn’t been too productive himself this year with a .260/.340/.324 line in AAA. I may have been too aggressive ranking him preseason, but I still believe in the bat. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #41. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em
If you’re gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right.