Aroldis Chapman had already blown away Hanley Ramirez on three pitches when the Red Sox rookie stepped in Sunday night.

A month before, Rafael Devers represented the Portland Sea Dogs in the Eastern League All-Star Game.

“Now he’s in Yankee Stadium, 46,000 fans, national TV,” said Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles, who knows about playing in Double-A and the major leagues the same year (1998 with the Royals).

“Once you get to the big leagues, you elevate your game.”

That defines Devers, who played 3½ months for the Sea Dogs, before stopping by Triple-A Pawtucket (nine games), and on to Boston, where his name is coming up in conversations alongside players like Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro.

In his first 17 games with Boston, Devers is hitting .348 with six home runs and 13 RBI.


“It’s nothing out of the ordinary. That’s Devers,” said Sea Dogs catcher Jordan Procyshen, a teammate for three seasons.

But it has been extraordinary, especially that at-bat against Chapman. The Red Sox trailed 2-1 in the top of the ninth. Chapman is brutal against left-handed batters (.130 average, one homer allowed in his career).

Chapman’s first pitch was a called strike at 102.4 mph.

Devers didn’t back down.

“I think he’s not going to let any moment be too big for him,” said Sea Dogs teammate Mike Olt, a former major leaguer with the Cubs and White Sox. “His natural ability will take over.”

Devers took a ball, then fouled off a high pitch. Both fastballs were also 102 mph.


Then Devers did what has made him such a dangerous hitter. He adjusted.

According to Jeff Sullivan of, Devers made a slight change for the next pitch to catch up with Chapman’s heat.

“He tweaked to a quieter, up-the-middle approach,” wrote Sullivan. “The feet didn’t open and the hips didn’t open.”

Chapman came with a 102.8 fastball, elevated, inside in the strike zone. Devers met it square for a home run to left-center, tying the game that Boston would win in the 10th inning.

Boston lost Monday night but Devers still hit two home runs, one over the Green Monster, the other golfed on a diving curveball, launched into the visiting bullpen in right field at Fenway Park.

“That’s very unique for any hitter of any age,” Manager John Farrell said.


Devers is only 20. In the last 100 years, only two other Red Sox players under age 21 hit two home runs in a game – Williams and Conigliaro.

Former teammates said they saw it coming.

“I don’t know what people are surprised about this,” tweeted former Sea Dogs infielder Mauricio Dubon (now in the Brewers’ organization). “He’s been doing this since he signed!”

The Sea Dogs usually play at the same time as the Red Sox and later catch highlights of Devers. “We’ve been watching him every step of the way,” Olt said.

Was this much success honestly expected?

“It’s hard for me to say yes but from what we saw here, it’s not hard to believe,” Febles said. “He doesn’t just want to be good. He wants to be great. And he works hard at it.”


Febles praised Devers’ defense, which has greatly improved since 2015, when he was considered a liability at third base.

Now he’s making plays, including the calm way he began a triple play Tuesday night.

And his bat is helping Boston in the stretch run.

“It’s a testament to his development and his preparation,” Sea Dogs hitting coach Lee May Jr. said. “He prepared himself for this moment from the time he’s been here.

“That’s the way Carlos sets things up – preparing guys to go and perform at Fenway. (Devers) took that to heart and that’s the way he went about his business.”

Febles has sent four players to the bigs – Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Tzu-Wei Lin (now in Pawtucket) and Yoan Moncada (traded to the White Sox).

When the White Sox traded Chris Sale to Boston, Chicago reportedly wanted Devers. The Red Sox said no and Moncada was dealt.

Interestingly, the Sea Dogs sponsored a Moncada bobblehead night Tuesday (the dolls were ordered before the trade).

Can you guess one of the bobblehead giveaways next year at Hadlock?

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