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April 19, 2022 at 12:00 PM

Minor Notes: COVID-19 issues surface, Rafaela earns weekly honor


The 2022 minor-league season is in full swing, with Monday representing the second off day of the year for all four of Boston's full-season affiliates in Worcester, Portland, Greenville, and Salem. The big-league club has gotten off to a 5-5 start, with their most recent loss coming at the hands of Minnesota on Patriots' Day.

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Transactions

Kevin Plawecki placed on COVID-19-related injured list, Connor Wong recalled from Worcester

Kevin Plawecki arrived at Fenway Park on Monday morning but was seen leaving in street clothes after testing positive for COVID-19. Despite being fully vaccinated against the virus, the veteran catcher was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list and could miss up to 10 days. Because of his status, though, Plawecki could return sooner if he passes certain protocols, such as presenting two negative PCR tests, not having a fever, and receiving approval from the joint COVID medical committee.

With Plawecki sidelined for the time being, fellow backstop Connor Wong (pictured, top) was called up from Worcester for the first time this season. The 25-year-old made his major-league debut last June and -- across three separate stints with the big-league club -- batted .308/.357/.538 with one double, one triple, one RBI, three runs scored, one walk, and seven strikeouts over eight games spanning 14 plate appearances. In four games with Worcester this season, he has gone 4 for 16 (.250) at the plate with one stolen base. 

Josh Taylor sent out on rehab assignment

Josh Taylor began the season on the injured list due to a low back strain. The left-handed reliever was sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester on April 17 and made his 2022 debut at Polar Park that same day. He got the start and immediately served up a leadoff home run to Roman Quinn before settling in and retiring the final three batters he faced. Taylor punctuated his day with a three-pitch strikeout and is expected to make at least 4-5 more appearances for Worcester before rejoining the big-league club. 

Deivy Grullón reports to Worcester

After first signing a minor-league contract with Boston on March 16, Deivy Grullón dealt with visa issues for nearly one month before being activated from the development list and officially reporting to Worcester on April 15. He made his season debut as a pinch hitter on Saturday and went 2 for 3 with a two-run double. Once a top prospect in Philadelphia's farm system, Grullón should provide Boston with experienced catching depth at the Triple-A level.

Other roster moves

Salem lost two of its pitchers for an undisclosed amount of time on April 15, as Barbaro Pinero was placed on the seven-day injured list and Juan Daniel Encarnacion was placed on the suspended list. Alexander Montero was also added from extended spring training. Elsewhere, Portland placed hulking first baseman Tyreque Reed on the seven-day injured list on April 14. The following day, outfielder Devlin Granberg was activated from the seven-day injured list before making his 2022 debut on April 16.

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Key Links

Fraymi De Leon, Freili Encarnacion, and Johanfran Garcia represent the top three additions from Boston's 2022 international signing class. Baseball America's Ben Badler recently took a look at these three prospects while also evaluating some lesser-known signees in his 2021-2022 international review for Boston.

On April 9, Joe Davis (pictured, right) made his professional debut as a pitcher for Greenville. The following day, Davis hit his first home run of the 2022 season, which also fell on his bobblehead night at Fluor Field. Regarded as a folk hero within Minor League Baseball for what he does on and off the field, Big Joe himself was recently profiled by MiLB.com's Benjamin Hill.


The 126th running of the Boston Marathon took place on Monday and Boston's director of player development, Brian Abraham, was among those who participated. In a conversation with The Athletic's Jen McCaffrey, Abraham revealed that he was running for Why Not Devin, a foundation that honors the memory of Devin Suau, a 6-year-old Framingham boy who died in 2017 of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) -- a rare, inoperable brain tumor. 

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Players of the Week

Ceddanne Rafaela, IF/OF, Greenville Drive

6 G, 30 AB, 13 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 10 R, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 1 BB, 6 K, .433/.452/.900

Rafaela (pictured, left) was unsurprisingly named the South Atlantic League Player of the Week for April 11-17 on Monday. The 21-year-old registered four multi-hit games in six attempts against Asheville and hit all three of his home runs in a two-game span from April 15-16. Through nine games with Greenville this season, he is batting .395/.422/.860 with five homers in the early campaign. 

As the organization's reigning Minor League Defensive Player of the Year, Rafaela was already known for his ability to play all around the infield and outfield. Based off what he is currently doing at the plate, though, the speedy right-handed hitter appears to be garnering more recognition.

Brayan Bello, RHP, Portland Sea Dogs

2 G, 1-1, 10 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 18 K

Bello (pictured, right) made two starts in Harrisburg last week and performed well in both of them. On April 12, his season debut, the right-hander struck out 10 over five scoreless innings of work in which he gave up just four hits and one walk. Five days later, he tossed another five innings, this time allowing two runs on two hits (both solo home runs) and one walk to go along with eight punchouts. 

It may be early, but to see Bello issue a total of two walks to the first 39 batters he has faced this year is quite the development after he walked 7.7% of the batters he faced between Greenville and Portland in 2021. If he can continue to harness his command, the 22-year-old flamethrower could be on the doorstep of the big leagues sooner rather than later.

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello, Joe Davis, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Connor Wong by Kelly O'Connor