Where does Rafael Devers rank among MLB's best young hitters?
If it feels like baseball has never boasted so many legitimate sluggers barely old enough to drink, you're not wrong.
It turns out that 2019 could make history: never have more than two players 22 or younger hit 30 homers in the same season, but this year should see at least four turn the trick, assuming Washington's Juan Soto (29) and Boston's Rafael Devers (27) join Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. (36) and New York's Gleyber Torres (33). And they're only the tip of the iceberg.
From San Diego's Fernando Tatis Jr. to a duo in Toronto and a trio in Atlanta, the game is awash in young power bats. How do they rank? Let's find out.
10. Austin Riley, LF, Braves
Yet another top-30 prospect in Atlanta's loaded farm system (if this list included pitchers, 21-year-old Braves right-hander Mike Soroka would be on it), Riley made an immediate impact when promoted on May 15, earning Rookie of the Month honors in just two weeks.
He's stuck on 17 homers while rehabbing a knee injury, though he had slumped before hitting the shelf (90 Ks in 66 games). Still, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder boasts impressive power that should play once he improves his discipline.
9. Eloy Jiménez, LF, White Sox
Speaking of contract extensions, the White Sox gave Jiménez $46 million before he even reached the big leagues. He has rewarded that gamble by producing 22 homers as a 22-year-old rookie.
Baseball's best outfield prospect entering the season, Jiménez has drawn comparisons to Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez for his ability to deliver consistently high averages (.311 in the minors) with an aggressive approach. He's hitting just .239 now, but the tools are there to be a middle-of-the-order weapon.
8. Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves
Albies packs some serious pop for a player who stands only 5-foot-8, 165 pounds. After blasting 24 homers and making an All-Star team at age 21 last year, the switch hitter has improved across the board, hitting .285 with 19 homers, 69 RBIs, and an .824 OPS.
He signed a very team-friendly extension through at least 2025, but the native of Curaçao wanted security, as well as to lock down his partnership with Ronald Acuña, Jr. They'll be the rest of the National League's problem well into the next decade.
7. Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays
When Bo was all of three years old, he used to shag fly balls from his dad, Dante, in Fenway Park after Red Sox games. That early training served him well, because he took Toronto by storm. Since being called up on July 29, the 21-year-old has put on a show, batting .351 with eight homers and a 1.073 OPS.
With his flowing hair and flair for the dramatic, he bears more than a passing resemblance to former Red Sox and Yankees great Johnny Damon, but Johnny Jesus never hit them half as far as Bichette.
6. Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, Yankees
Torres was born just two months after the Yankees won the first World Series of the Derek Jeter Era in 1996, and the production he has provided in the middle of the diamond over the last two years serves as a fitting tribute to The Captain.
He arrived from the Cubs as the centerpiece of the 2016 Aroldis Chapman trade and has since made All-Star teams in each of his two seasons in pinstripes. As we try to make sense of the Yankees dominating the division despite myriad injuries, Torres stands out as a rock.
5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
It's tempting to say the Home Run Derby made Guerrero a star, but the fact is we've been awaiting his arrival since his dad entered the Hall of Fame in 2018. Vlad Sr. was a little taller and a lot leaner, but once Junior swings, they might as well be identical twins.
With 15 homers, Guerrero hasn't exactly wowed in his debut — that distinction goes to a more recent arrival in Toronto — but he's still only 20 and we're betting on the potential that made him baseball's consensus No. 1 prospect.
4. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Another iteration of this list might put Tatis at No. 1, because he's another NL star with seemingly limitless potential. Tatis looked like a safe bet to join the 30-home run club before a back injury ended his season two weeks ago.
The injuries have accumulated for the 20-year-old over the last 12 months, but his debut was spectacular, with 22 homers, 16 steals, and highlight-reel (albeit inconsistent) defense. The son of a former big leaguer, he has Padres fans dreaming that better days lay ahead.
3. Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
You knew we'd get to him eventually. Devers is the most exciting Red Sox prospect since Nomar Garciaparra nearly 25 years ago, and it's hard to imagine that anyone on this list hits the ball with more consistent authority. After a slow April, Devers has been a monster since May.
He now leads the AL in hits, doubles, RBIs, and total bases. He leads MLB in hard-hit balls, with 214 shots of at least 95 mph. He is an MVP in waiting, and he'll receive votes this year. He suddenly looks like the future of the organization.
2. Juan Soto, LF, Nationals
Red Sox fans won't like this, but Devers doesn't crack the Top-2 on our list. Want to know something Devers never did? Smash 20 homers as a teenager. Soto turned that trick last year with the Nats, and an argument can be made that he belongs atop this list because of some seriously advanced plate discipline.
Last year he became the only teenager ever to post an on base percentage of .400, and if he duplicates the feat (he's at .402) at age 20, he'll join four all-time greats: Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, and Al Kaline. If not for Acuña . . .
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves
There is no more jaw-dropping young talent in the game than Acuña, who leads the National League in homers and steals and has an outside shot at becoming the youngest 40-40 player in history (A-Rod was 22 when he did it in 1998).
Already signed to an eight-year, $100 million extension, the 21-year-old has followed a Rookie of the Year debut with an MVP-caliber sophomore campaign. Will he be Barry Bonds? Mike Trout? Mickey Mantle? Nothing is off the table.