Ranking Rafael Devers, Ronald Acuna among MLB's best young hitters

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Ranking Rafael Devers, Ronald Acuna among MLB's best young hitters

There's a youth movement in baseball.

Everywhere you look, young players are having breakout seasons at the plate. There's a good chance that four players age 22 or younger could break the 30-home run mark in 2019.

From second generation talents like Bo Bichette, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a former Rookie of the Year who's improved in his second season (Ronald Acuna Jr.) to a player who can't even legally drink yet (Juan Soto), young bats are excelling like never before.

How stacked is the competition for baseball's best young bat? Rafael Devers is leading the AL in hits, doubles, RBIs, and total bases... and he can't even crack the Top-2 in our rankings.

Here's John Tomase's list of the best young hitters in baseball.>>>>>

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Pedro Martinez 'couldn't hold his emotions' during Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s Home Run Derby performance

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Pedro Martinez 'couldn't hold his emotions' during Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s Home Run Derby performance

Watching Vladimir Guerrero Jr. compete in this year's Home Run Derby was a surreal experience for anyone that remembers his father's days in the league.

But it was especially surreal for Red Sox great Pedro Martinez, who has known the 20-year-old slugger since he was a baby and just so happens to be his godfather. Martinez was teammates with Guerrero Sr. for parts of two seasons with the Montreal Expos in 1996, and the Dominican duo has maintained a close bond ever since.

Tuesday on MLB Network's "High Heat," Martinez described the emotions of watching Vlad Jr. go from being a baby in his arms to a star on MLB's biggest stage.

"It's like I have my own kid competing against someone else, and I couldn't hold the emotions," Martinez told MLB Network's Chris Russo. "I was really happy. I found myself yelling and kicking and screaming because I never felt so close to another person competing like I did ever before.

"It was weird. I saw Vladdy play, but I mean, Vladdy Jr. was like the baby I had in my hands, and he's a big boy. Now I cannot even lift him up."

Watch below:

Martinez didn't just get to watch Vlad Jr. compete in the Derby, he got to watch him put on a show. The Blue Jays rookie totaled 91 homers and defeated Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson in an epic second-round showdown before falling to Mets rookie Pete Alonso in the final round.

Although he didn't get to see Vladdy win the $1 million prize and hoist the Home Run Derby trophy this time around, there's no doubt Martinez will get plenty of chances to cheer his godson on in the years to come.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. speaks with David Ortiz, shares encouraging update on Red Sox legend

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. speaks with David Ortiz, shares encouraging update on Red Sox legend

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is in town this weekend as the Blue Jays begin a three-game series vs. the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The 20-year-old phenom's first order of business upon arrival in Boston was checking in with family friend David Ortiz, who was shot in the Dominican Republic on June 9. Guerrero's relationship with Ortiz goes back to when both the former Red Sox slugger and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. were in the prime of their respective baseball careers.

“We have a great relationship,” Guerrero Jr. said before Friday's game through a translator, per Jessica Camerato of MLB.com. “Actually, this morning I spoke with David and there is a chance tomorrow I will go to see him.”

Ortiz continues to recover at Mass General Hospital from his two surgeries, but his condition was upgraded to "good" on Wednesday. Vlad Jr. provided another encouraging update on Big Papi's health.

“Thank God, he sounds very good,” Guerrero Jr. said. “He feels very well right now. And that’s all the Dominican wants and all baseball wants, is for him to feel very well.”

On Wednesday, Dominican officials insisted Ortiz was not the intended target in the shooting and the attack was meant to be on his friend, Sixto David Fernandez.

After getting off to a slow start to his rookie season, Vlad Jr. is beginning to come into his own. The young slugger entered Friday's game hitting .249 with seven home runs and 19 RBI.

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