Coming over as one of the two prospects involved in the deal that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, José Devers is flying under the radar in the Marlins farm system.
The Dominican Devers was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in 2016 and is recognizable by many as being the cousin of Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. Baseball genes clearly run in the family.
The left-handed hitter stands at six feet tall with a listed weight of 155 pounds. He just turned 18 this past December. According to MLB Pipeline, he currently ranks as Miami’s No. 22 prospect, but that is a very high praise for a player who has yet to play a full minor league season. Every player ahead of Devers on Pipeline’s list in older than he is.
Based on what scouts have been able to see from Devers, he is a defense-first shortstop who has the athleticism and agility to improve on that side of the ball. Outside of him, the Marlins are relatively thin on prospects at that premium position, so he will continue to receive playing time there. Of his 50 regular season games in 2018, 37 have been at shortstop (the others split between second base and designated hitter).
#Marlins Jose Devers, one of the pieces the team got back in the Stanton trade. Spotlight coming next week at @2080ball along with a big push of South Atlantic League stuff after the all-star game. #JuntosMiami @fishstripes @marlinsminors pic.twitter.com/GMp4Y00pui— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) June 13, 2018
At the plate, Devers has more room for improvement—he has homered only once in his pro career thus far. Once he does get on base, though, his solid speed gives him the ability to wreak havoc. It will be important for the teenager to add more bulk to his frame in an effort to generate in-game power and strengthen his throws from shortstop, as some evaluators question whether he currently has enough arm strength to translate to the majors.
Devers has spent this season at Single-A Greensboro, somewhat of an aggressive assignment considering his age. He is slashing .272/.314/.349 with 14 RBIs and six stolen bases. His longest hitting streak spanned 11 games from May 19-28. The average player in the South Atlantic League is more than three years his senior.
Back in April, Hoppers manager Todd Pratt noted that occasional reps at second base would only add to Devers’ versatility, Jeff Mills of Greensboro News & Record reports. Pratt also attributed his slow start to the season to poor weather, considering that all of his previous playing experience had come in comfortable Florida and Latin America.
Being only 18, the expectation is for Devers to arrive in Miami early next decade. He should earn a promotion to High-A Jupiter in 2019, and from there, development at the plate may dictate his progress.
The primary motivation for trading Stanton in December—coming off a NL MVP campaign—was to create more payroll flexibility. But fans rarely sympathize with management in such situations. The blockbuster move will be remembered far more favorably if Devers becomes a contributor at the highest level.