By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Watching Rafael Devers operate at the plate, you would never guess he’s a 20-year-old rookie who just wrapped up his first week in the majors.
Devers has looked more like a savvy veteran at the dish (we’ll refrain from putting him in Cooperstown for at least another week), and continued his torrid start to his Major League career on Monday night with a 4-for-4 showing in Boston’s 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. He’s hitting a robust .417 over his first six games, going 10-for-24 at the dish with two doubles, two homers and a ridiculous 1.231 OBP. He’s reached base in all six games, and became just the third member of the Red Sox in the last century to notch 10 hits in his first six games, joining Ted Cox and Ted Williams.
The third baseman said after Monday night’s win that everything has been surprising to him in his brief stint in the majors, but that hasn’t kept him from accomplishing what he wants at the plate with relative ease.
“I’m just focused on making contact,” said Devers, who became just the fifth Red Sox with four or more hits in a game before the age of 20 (joining the likes of Babe Ruth and Williams). “Sometimes out there I’ll close my eyes and make contact, and wherever it goes, that’s where it goes.”
Whether his eyes are opened or closed, plenty of eyeballs on the Red Sox are wide open whenever Devers steps up to bat. And they’re very impressed with everything they’ve seen.
“You look at the body language in the box, he’s not in a hurry, he’s not in a rush, you don’t see him lunging out to try to manufacture bat speed to combat velocity,” said Boston manager John Farrell. “At this level, we didn’t know when it was going to happen.”
“His at-bats are just great,” said teammate Mookie Betts, who drove in three runs on Monday. “He’s in control in all of his at-bats. He swings at good pitches. He’s hitting the ball all over the place so they don’t really know where to play him. I think that’s just definitely his best quality.”
Batting mostly eighth or ninth when he was first called up last week, Farrell moved the rookie and his hot bat up to the six-hole on Monday night. Devers rewarded the move with his best night at the plate.
The Red Sox were in desperate need of any kind of jolt to the lineup, and they’ve received it so far from their promising prospect. Devers has made it look easy over the first week of his career, but now the real test will come as Major League pitchers figure out his tendencies and adjust to him. It’ll be up to Devers to make his own adjustments, which is what separates the great hitters from the good ones.
He may be just 20, but Devers seems more than up to that challenge. That’s great news for a Red Sox lineup that has needed a hot bat all season.