At just 18 years old, Rafael Devers was the youngest player to play in the Futures Game. (Elsa/Getty Images)

How Red Sox minor leaguer Rafael Devers is like Carlos Delgado; Manuel Margot surprised many in Sox organization

Ryan Hannable
July 13, 2015 - 7:54 am

CINCINNATI -- The Red Sox have an extremely talented farm system, but Sunday at the Futures Game the spotlight was on Rafael Devers and Manuel Margot. While each went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in the game, it wasn't about their performances as much as it was the recognition of being named to the game in the first place. "It's a great honor for those guys," Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers said via phone. "To me, they are young guys and people think they have a bright future and they are on the right path to get to the big leagues -- have a chance to get on the big stage." Devers, who is just 18 years old, was the second-youngest player to play in the game, only older than Ozhaino Albies, a 17-year-old Braves minor league shortstop from Curacao. Devers said he wasn't thinking about that at all. "No, I feel the same as everybody," he said through a translator after the game. "All baseball players are the same out there." For Hyers, who has been around the game 20-plus years, he knows how unusual it was for a player that young to get the recognition of being named to the game. "It is a big honor and it is uncommon for somebody that young to be named," Hyers said. "He put a lot of hard work into it and I think he's a really good player." The third baseman and lefty hitter was signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2013 and quickly has made an impact. He hit a combined .337 in the Dominican League and Florida Gulf Coast League last summer with seven homers as a 17-year-old. This year with Low-A Greenville, he has a slash line of .294/.324/.471 with 19 doubles, seven home runs and 42 RBIs in 71 games. Devers is projected to be a power hitter once he fully grows into his body and is already drawing comparisons to a former major league All-Star. "Just because of the way his hands work, how loose they are and the bat whip that he gets, he reminds me some of, similar to Carlos Delgado in my opinion," Hyers said. "Being left-handed and that looseness. Carlos had kind of the hands high and the bat tilt at times. He reminds me of the bat speed and the ability to drive the ball to all fields like Carlos." Not only is Devers special on the field, he works just as hard off the field, which Hyers noted isn't always the case with every player who comes into the organization, especially as young as Devers. "I think he's very mature," he said. "On the field he has the passion to hit. He is into it. He's willing to be coachable. I think the big thing is he's focused, he's aware of detail and comes to the park every day ready to get better. You don't see that every day with every young player that comes through the organization. He's not afraid of competition or putting it on the line. I really think he is what he is today just because of his work and focus and desire to be one of the best hitters." Margot, who is 20 years old and was acquired as an international free agent in 2011, was promoted to Double-A Portland last month after hitting .316 in 18 games in June with High-A Salem. The center fielder missed about three weeks in June with an intercostal injury, which was a primary reason why he hit just .135 in 10 games in May. The way he has rebounded from the injury so quickly surprised even some within the organization. "He bounced back, for sure. Probably better than what all of us anticipated," Hyers said. "When you're a hitter, you're a hitter. It takes a little while, but he sort of struggled right before the injury and I think after the injury he came back on fire and really was moving in the right direction. That started with his pitch selection. We saw him have really good balance at the plate, and when he shows balance at the plate we all know he has the quickness and the hand-eye and all the intangibles of being a good hitter. When we started to see that, it was not anything surprising, he was just ready to take off." Margot returned from his injury on May 30, and then by June 22 he was promoted to Double-A. "I don't think he wasn't challenged -- it was just a new challenge," Hyers said. "As you move up, the pitchers are better, they control their stuff. It's just small things, small parts of their game that can be exposed and a new challenge. See what he can do at that level." A right-handed hitter who started the Futures Game in center and batted seventh, Margot also makes an impact on the bases. He stole 42 bases between High-A Greenville and Salem last year and has 25 between Salem and Portland this year. "He enjoys stealing bags and being aggressive puts pressure on the opposing team, especially the pitcher and catcher," Hyers said. "I think he really looks forward to that and likes that part of the game." While being named to the Futures Game says the two have the potential to one day be impactful major league players, which could get to some players' heads, Margot and Devers likely won't fall into that category. Hyers pointed to both their work ethic and always wanting to improve on their crafts. "There is still work to be done and nothing is guaranteed, but for them [there are] a lot of people other than the coaches in the Red Sox [system] telling them, 'Hey, you have a chance,' " Hyers said.