See also: Baseball America updated all its prospect rankings for subscribers in August.
Two months into the 2021 season, Ceddanne Rafaela looked overmatched at the plate.
He was hitting .225 with one homer in 39 games for Low-A Salem while swinging and missing with too much frequency for a batter who possessed impressive hand-eye coordination.
Rafaela and Salem hitting coach Nelson Paulino determined that a pre-swing hitch created too much movement. He raised his hands above his head and started working more directly down towards the ball.
The results showed promise. Rafaela hit .266/.306/.484 with nine homers in his final 63 games. The versatile infielder even took like a fish to water when seeing time in center field.
Yet no one could have anticipated the breakout of the 5-foot-8, 152-pound Rafaela in 2022.
In his age-21 season, Rafaela—who signed with Boston for $10,000 out of Curacao in 2017—delivered the most dynamic performance in the system.
Rafaela hit .299/.342/.539 with 21 homers, 28 stolen bases, 26 walks and 113 strikeouts in 116 games split between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland. He coupled that with highlight-reel defense that multiple organizations graded as elite or near elite.
“You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” said Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster, who worked as minor league outfield coordinator in 2021.
“He’s not there yet as an infielder, but talent-wise and with some more reps and some more polish, he has Gold Glove potential as a shortstop as well.”
Standout defense, above-average speed and solid contact skills give Rafaela a solid MLB floor. But the fact that the righthanded hitter is now regularly driving the ball for extra bases suggests a ceiling of an above-average regular.
“This guy is progressing in such a short amount of time,” Red Sox outfield coordinator Corey Wimberly said. “There’s room for growth. He still can get stronger, he can still get faster, he can still learn. He’s only really scratching the surface right now.”
— Lefthander Brandon Walter, who last pitched in early June for Triple-A Worcester, was shut down for the season with a cervical bulging disc. The Red Sox believe he’ll be ready for spring training with rest and rehab.
— Shortstop David Hamilton stole his 65th base of the season on Sept. 10, breaking the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs record that had been set in 1999.