It’s been a big year for multiple Boston Red Sox prospects.
Brayan Bello and Triston Casas both made the jump to the big leagues this season while a slew of others, including the No. 4 overall pick from the 2021 MLB Draft in Marcelo Mayer, have made strides in the minor leagues.
But one prospect, who was lesser known to begin the season, has arrived on the scene in a big way thanks to a sensational campaign across High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. He even caught the eye of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and now, Ceddanne Rafaela has wound up on ESPN Insider Kiley McDaniel’s list of 10 MLB prospects who had breakout seasons.
“I had Rafaela at the lowest prospect tier on the Red Sox list entering the season,” McDaniel wrote. “I had him as a standout, plus-plus defender but my only note on his offense is that he ‘swung too much,’ while the offensive tool grades were fringy. He may still swing too much, as his walk rates hover around 5-6%, but it’s notable that Rafaela hit (21) homers, (10) triples and 32 doubles this season, evenly split across High-A and Double-A while young for the level at then-20 years old. Combine that with his plus speed and versatility (he can play basically any position at an above-average level) and he’s at least a top-tier utility type with more raw tools than you expect.”
Rafaela, who is ranked as Boston’s No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has turned into a web-gem machine this year, making several highlight-reel plays both in center field and at shortstop. The offensive numbers from the 22-year-old, which include a .299 batting average, 86 RBIs and 28 stolen bases, are a bit more surprising given his slender 5-foot-8, 152-pound frame.
McDaniel believes Rafaela could turn into a Ben Zobrist or Marwin Gonzalez type of player with versatility to play all over the field. If Rafaela reaches his highest potential, McDaniel offered comps of Adolis Garcia or Cedric Mullins.
“The point is that he’s definitely something now,” McDaniel wrote, “while before this season not many people thought that, especially me.”
Rafaela will continue his development this offseason playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League.