While the Boston Red Sox waved good bye to the end of one era at third base when they designated Pablo Sandoval for assignment on Friday, they also made a move that will eventually usher in a new era at third base. Rafael Devers, Boston's top prospect, received the official promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket and will play at third base immediately.
The jump up is certainly well deserved for Devers. The 20-year-old utterly crushed opposing pitchers at the Double-A level this season, as he consistently displayed the potential that makes him a top-10 prospect in baseball. Across 320 plate appearances at the level in 2017, Devers obliterated the ball to the tune of a .300/.369/.575 slash line, .408 wOBA, 154 wRC+ and 18 home runs.
What's more impressive is Devers relatively low contact rate given the numbers and his age. He only struck out in17.2 percent of his plate appearances, the second year in a row he posted a 17.2 percent strikeout rate. Devers doesn't walk a lot, but his 9.7 walk percentage is an improvement from last season and a steady number on its own.
As for when Red Sox fans should expect Devers up to fill Boston's massive hole at the hot corners, that remains to be seen. They'll almost certainly want to see him get extended at bats at Triple-A before a promotion to the big club, so it seems likely Devers spends most of August, if not all, in Pawtucket. So third base will remain a need at the trade deadline for Boston as it seeks to hold its lead in the A.L. East.
Dynasty owners and Red Sox fans should absolutely get excited. With a 55-grade hit tool and 60-plus power potential with half his games coming in Fenway and a majority of road games in hitter-friendly parks, the numbers Devers could put up in his prime are mouthwatering. So while the wait may be a little bit longer, it will all be worth it in the end.