October 1, 2023

Crimson Sox

Rafaela is slashing .302/.349/.520 with 20 residence runs and 79 RBIs over 108 video games within the minors this season.

Ceddanne Rafaela is batting .302 this season between Portland and Worcester. Ashley Inexperienced / Worcester Crimson Sox

The Crimson Sox gave one in every of their most promising prospects a call-up to the large leagues on Monday afternoon.

Within the hours forward of Boston’s sequence opener in opposition to the Houston Astros at Fenway Park, the Crimson Sox introduced that they referred to as up outfielder/infielder Ceddanne Rafaela from Triple-A Worcester.

The 22-year-old Rafaela is anticipated to make his big-league debut on Tuesday, with extra reps in middle subject accessible after Jarren Duran landed on the IL with a toe damage.

Rafaela is taken into account probably the most intriguing prospects in baseball due to his versatile skillset, rating as Boston’s No. 3 prospect (and No. 77 in MLB) by MLB Pipeline, whereas The Athletic’s Keith Legislation tabbed him because the Crimson Sox’ No. 2 prospect in his preseason rankings and the No. 48 prospect in baseball in his midseason replace.  

So what do the Crimson Sox have in a participant like Rafaela? Listed here are 5 issues to know in regards to the Curaçao native.

1. Rafaela already has Gold-Glove potential in middle subject 

Rafaela’s path to the large leagues has appeared all however inevitable for the previous few years, due largely to his sterling defensive capabilities. A flexible defender, Rafaela has made 84 begins this season in middle subject and 15 at shortstop throughout his stints with each Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester.

And though Rafaela is a plus-defender within the infield, his expertise shines whereas patrolling the outfield. His spotlight reels with each Portland and Worcester are plagued by situations the place he has erased extra-base hits and runs off the scorecard by the use of diving grabs and fence-climbing snags.

“Defensively, he’s prepared proper now,” Worcester Crimson Sox supervisor Chad Tracy informed Alex Speier of The Boston Globe final week. “He may go up there and play pretty much as good or higher middle fielder than a lot of the guys which are up there. I firmly imagine that.”

Rafaela, who was named the Crimson Sox’ minor-league defensive participant of the yr in each 2021 and 2022, needs to be good for not less than an online gem or two for nonetheless lengthy he stays up in MLB this season.

“That is my twentieth yr within the group. I’ve by no means seen the man that you may put in two premier positions on the diamond and he performs at that elite standing. I’ve simply by no means seen something prefer it,” Sea Canines supervisor Chad Epperson informed Speier in September 2022. “He will get to balls with ease and has a knack to play the infield, at all times answerable for hops … You hear coaches that you just discuss to on the opposite group [say] he’s one of the best participant within the league.”

2. He’s drawn comparisons to a former Crimson Sox star on the plate

Rafaela’s defensive skills had been probably going to carve his path as much as the large leagues sooner or later, even when he served as extra of a utility participant.

However his improved manufacturing on the plate has allowed him to soar up the Crimson Sox farm-system rankings.

Up to now this season, Rafaela is slashing .302/.349/.520 with 20 residence runs and 79 RBIs over 108 mixed video games between Portland and Worcester.

Regardless of the leap in competitors, Rafaela has really improved since getting referred to as as much as Triple-A again in late June. After slugging six residence runs and driving in 37 runs over 60 video games with Double-A Portland, the Curaçao native has clubbed 14 residence runs in simply 48 video games with Worcester.

Regardless that he’s not precisely essentially the most imposing determine on the plate (5-foot-9), Rafaela can generate loads of energy on the plate due to his fast fingers and bat pace. From August 1-5, Rafaela homered in 5 straight video games for the WooSox. 

Given his means to barrel the ball persistently with out a lot heft on his body, Rafaela has drawn just a few comparisons to a different smaller Crimson Sox participant who packed loads of punch.

“I consider Mookie Betts actually once I see him,” Rafaela’s Portland teammate, David Hamilton, informed Chris Smith of MassLive.com final yr. “He can do all of it. He can hit. He can subject. He can run. He can throw. So he’s an excellent participant.”

3. His plate self-discipline nonetheless wants work

Given Rafaela’s already polished defensive play and manufacturing on the plate, why has it taken him till the ultimate week of August to earn a long-awaited call-up to the large leagues?

All of it comes right down to plate self-discipline, which has been an everyday hurdle for the promising prospect to beat throughout his years within the minors.

“Swing choices, for certain,” Tracy stated of Rafaela’s main focus throughout an interview with Boston.com earlier this season. “We knew he was a gifted man. We knew he was going to have the ability to hit, defend, all that . However the swing determination half was the following piece of the puzzle that wanted to proceed to enhance.”

A few of Rafaela’s manufacturing has been a results of his aggressive habits on the plate, with the outfielder vulnerable to chasing pitches and difficult no matter choices are thrown to him. 

Up to now this season, Rafaela has struck out 103 instances and walked solely 26 instances in 444 at-bats between Portland and Worcester. 

Enhancing plate self-discipline has been a long-standing directive issued by the Crimson Sox improvement workers on the subject of Rafaela’s progress.

As Alex Speier famous earlier this yr, the Crimson Sox even restricted Rafaela to only one swing per at-bat throughout spring coaching as a way to drill down the purpose of not chasing pitches.

Rafaela has made strides relenting off of pitches exterior the zone, prompting his call-up on Monday. It’s a directive that he might want to proceed to comply with, given the challenges that await in opposition to MLB pitchers.

“Even one of the best hitters on the earth are gonna chase typically,” Tracy defined to Boston.com. “They’re gonna chase up or down, they’re gonna chase out of the zone. The purpose for him is — let’s hone it again into an space that form of hovers round what the common of what the remainder of the league does.

And if we do this, together with your means, your bat-to-ball abilities, then unexpectedly we’re eliminating 15 p.c of the balls that we’re swinging at that we don’t actually have an opportunity to barrel. We hone these in after which let’s see what number of extra balls now hit the barrel of your bat, which lets you do critical injury.”

4. Rafaela set a Sea Canines file for steals in a sport

Rafaela’s protection and pop on the plate have allowed him to develop right into a promising asset in Boston’s prospect pipeline. However his pace and aggressiveness on the basepaths additionally add one other component to his repertoire that Boston will look to make the most of this season.

Rafaela has stolen 36 bases in his 108 video games between Portland and Worcester this season, headlined by a record-setting efficiency again in Might.

Throughout a 6-2 loss in opposition to the Somerset Patriots on Might 13, Rafaela stole six bases for the Sea Canines en path to a brand new franchise file. Rafaela was initially credited with seven stolen bases, along with his remaining steal of third base within the ninth inning modified by the official scorer after the sport to defensive indifference.

Rafaela’s six steals in a single sport have solely been achieved by 4 gamers in AL/NL historical past and had been solely matched as soon as within the twenty first century. Carl Crawford stole six bases for the Rays in a sport in opposition to the Crimson Sox on Might 5, 2009.

“He’s very toolsy. He just about has all of it. He can hit, hit for energy, he can throw, he can run,” Crimson Sox outfielder coordinator Corey Wimberly informed Speier final July. “It’s exhausting to venture guys, however I believe he’s gonna be fairly good, man. I believe he’s gonna be higher than what folks assume. I believe he’s actually gonna be a famous person participant. I actually imagine that.”

5. Rafaela’s household had been clearly enormous Atlanta Braves followers

As noted by Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe, Rafaela’s full identify is Ceddanne Chipper Nicasio Marte Rafaela. 

Certain sufficient, Rafaela was partially named after former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones as a result of his mom, Rechilena, was an enormous fan. As was the case with many baseball followers rising up in Curaçao, the Braves had been a straightforward group to root for with Curaçao’s personal Andruw Jones on the group. 

Nonetheless, Rafaela did admit to Chris Smith of MassLive.com that he at all times appreciated the Crimson Sox rising up, with Manny Ramirez standing as his favourite hitter and Dustin Pedroia his favourite defender.