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October 21, 2022 at 11:00 AM

Ceddanne Rafaela: 2022 SoxProspects.com Player of the Year


Welcome to the fifth and final day of SoxProspects.com Awards Week. Throughout the week, we have recognized our All-Star pitchers and position players, our Graduate, Homegrown Player, and Ex-Prospect of the Year, and our Rookie, Comeback, and Breakout Players of the Year. Today, we start by naming the winner of the top award given out by SoxProspects.com each season, the Player of the Year.

Player of the Year

Our Breakout Player of the Year is also our overall Player of the Year. Ceddanne Rafaela burst onto the scene this season and opened the eyes of many thanks to impressive production at the plate and on the field. 
The 22-year-old had already established himself as an adequate defender who could play multiple positions well. That much was made clear when he earned Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year for the first time last fall. At the same time, though, Rafaela posted a below-average 95 wRC+ in 102 games with Salem last season, making his offensive performance this year all the more spectacular.

To start the 2022 campaign, Rafaela broke camp with Greenville while being regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 19 prospect in the organization. The right-handed hitter got off to a hot start and batted .330/.368/.594 with 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 36 RBIs, 37 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 51 strikeouts in 45 games (209 plate appearances) with the Drive. He hit for the cycle on May 17 and earned a promotion to Portland on June 5.

With the Sea Dogs, Rafaela slashed .278/.324/.500 to go along with 15 doubles, six triples, 12 homers, 50 runs driven in, 45 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 16 walks, and 62 strikeouts over 71 games (313 plate appearances). Between the two affiliates, he produced a final line of .299/.342/.538 (134 wRC+) with 21 homers, 86 RBIs, 82 runs scored, and 28 stolen bases. He was the only hitter in the organization to put together a 20-20 season.

Defensively, Rafaela proved to be a constant source of highlight reel plays. The 5-foot-8, 152-pounder saw the majority of his playing time this year come at either center field or shortstop and put his athleticism on full display at both positions. In a conversation with The Boston Globe's Alex Speier earlier this summer, Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster described Rafaela as having Gold Glove potential at short while also noting he could win a Gold Glove Award as an outfielder.

In terms of accolades, Rafaela was simultaneously named the South Atlantic League and SoxProspects.com Player of the Week back in April. He was also named a Futures Game and SoxProspects.com All-Star and was once again tabbed as Boston's Minor League Defensive Player of the Year last month.

As far as things stand now, Rafaela is ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 4 prospect in the organization. He entered Baseball America's top 100 prospects rankings in July and now sits at No. 78. MLB Pipeline has him listed at No. 96 on its top 100 list. 

Since signing with the Red Sox for just $10,000 as an international free agent coming out of Curacao in July 2017, Rafaela has made strides and has emerged as one of the more intriguing prospects in Boston's farm system. He has put himself squarely in position to be added to the Red Sox' 40-man roster next month in order to receive protection from this winter's Rule 5 Draft. 

In the meantime, Rafaela is slated to play winter ball in Puerto Rico. He will be suiting up for Criollos de Caguas, who will be managed by Red Sox first base coach Ramon Vazquez. Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a native of Caguas, told MassLive.com's Christopher Smith last month that he was looking forward to getting to know Rafaela and watch him play in-person.

Photo Credit: Ceddanne Rafaela by Kelly O'Connor