Either way, the highly touted Boston Red Sox prospect caught the eye of manager Alex Cora.
“His defense at shortstop and the outfield is elite,” Cora told reporters Friday, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “It’s very unique. His body, obviously he’s not a big guy, but he’s a strong kid. He punishes the ball to right-center. It seems like he has made progress as far as like swing decisions and all that. And he’s having a great, great season.”
Between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, the soon-to-be 22-year-old batted .303 while belting 21 home runs to go along with 86 RBIs and 28 stolen bases. The power really jumps off the page given Rafaela’s slender frame, as he is listed at 5-foot-8 and 152 pounds. But it’s Rafaela’s glove that is most impressive as he turned in stellar defense both at shortstop and in the outfield.
“The player, we really like,” Cora said. “I think the way he went about it the whole season, it was impressive. And what that group did toward the end, that was fun to watch from afar.”
Cora hopes to get to know Rafaela better over the offseason as the dynamic youngster will play for Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Cagaus is Cora’s hometown team and will be coached by Red Sox first base coach Ramon Vazquez, according to Smith.
“We’re going to be able to enjoy it,” Cora said. “Just try to meet him, know who he is as a person. That’s something that I’m looking forward to. We had that opportunity with Jarren (Duran) a few years ago, but it was limited because of the whole pandemic and the restrictions. But now that we can actually interact with others, it would be fun just to have him around, bring him to the house and talk to him and embrace him.”
Smith also noted that since Rafaela is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter, the Red Sox will need to place him on the 40-man roster by November.