Red Sox invite 11 prospects to rookie development program; Ceddanne Rafaela, Bryan Mata among those scheduled to participate

After a three-year hiatus, the Red Sox will be bringing back their Rookie Development Program to Fenway Park later this week.

Boston announced on Wednesday that 11 players are scheduled to participate in the five-day program, which begins on Saturday, January 21, and concludes on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The prospects who were invited are infielders/outfielders Ceddanne Rafaela and Enmanuel Valdez, infielder David Hamilton, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, left-handers Chris Murphy and Brandon Walter, and right-handers Brayan Bello, Ryan Fernandez, Franklin German, Zack Kelly, and Bryan Mata.

Rafaela, Valdez, Hamilton, Abreu, Murphy, and Walter were all added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft. Mata was added in 2020 for the very same reason. Bello, German, and Kelly, meanwhile, all made their major-league debuts for Boston last season.

Interestingly enough, Fernandez is the lone player here who is not currently a member of the Sox’ 40-man roster. The 24-year-old righty flashed some electric stuff (including a high-90s fastball) between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland last year before suffering a season-ending elbow injury in July. He is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 38 prospect in the organization.

Fernandez and these 10 other players will take part in this development program, which was first introduced in 2004 in an effort to ease the transition from the minor- to the major-leagues. Past participants include Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck, Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, Matt Barnes, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts.

The Red Sox last held their rookie development program in Jan. 2020. It was cancelled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not take place in 2022 due to the MLB lockout. In lieu of it being axed last year, Boston held a “Winter Warmup” minicamp in Fort Myers for select prospects who were not yet on the 40-man roster, such as Rafaela, German, Kelly, Murphy, Walter, and Triston Casas.

According to the Red Sox, this year’s version of the rookie development program includes “two workouts daily that emphasize conditioning and strength training as well as a concentration on baseball fundamentals. In addition, the players are attending a number of seminars that will focus on the assimilation into major-league life on and off the field. They will attend the Boston Bruins game on Sunday, Jan. 22, host an RBI clinic alongside the Red Sox Foundation on Monday, Jan. 23, and visit Boston Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 24.”

Team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, general manager Brian O’Halloran, and manager Alex Cora are among those who are scheduled to speak with this year’s participants. They will also hear from other members of the club’s baseball operations, baseball communications and media relations, and community relations departments.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add 5 prospects, including Ceddanne Rafaela and Brandon Walter, to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox have selected five prospects to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft, the club announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Left-handers Chris Murphy and Brandon Walter, super-utility player Ceddanne Rafaela, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, and infielder David Hamilton were all added. In order to make room for these five on the 40-man roster, which sat at 37 players coming into Tuesday’s deadline, right-hander Jake Reed and catcher Caleb Hamilton were both designated for assignment.

Murphy, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking third among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally selected the Californian-born southpaw in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego.

In 15 appearances (13 starts) with Double-A Portland to begin the 2022 minor-league season, Murphy posted a 2.58 ERA and 3.35 FIP with 91 strikeouts to 31 walks over 76 2/3 innings of work. He was promoted to Triple-A Worcester in late June and pitched to a 5.50 ERA (5.26 FIP) with 58 strikeouts to 41 walks in 15 starts (75 1/3 innings) for the WooSox.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Murphy operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that can reach 96-97 mph, an 83-85 mph changeup, a 73-76 mph curveball, and an 80-84 mph slider.

Walter, 26, is ranked right behind Murphy as Baseball America’s No. 9 Red Sox prospect. The University of Delaware product was taken by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 draft and burst onto the scene last year. He began the 2022 campaign in Portland and produced a 2.88 ERA (2.73 FIP) with 68 strikeouts to just three walks in his first nine starts (50 innings) with the Sea Dogs.

That level of performance netted Walter a promotion to Worcester in late May. But the 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefty made just two starts for the WooSox before a bulging cervical disk prematurely ended his season in early June. Walter works with a 90-93 mph heater that tops out at 95 mph, an 80-83 mph changeup, and an 80-83 mph slider. If healthy, he could provide the Red Sox with starting rotation depth next season.

Rafaela is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 78 prospect in all of baseball. The Red Sox originally signed the versatile 22-year-old for just $10,000 as an international free agent in July 2017. He has since emerged as one of the organization’s brightest prospects and was alone in representing the Sox at this year’s All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles.

After earning Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time in 2021, Rafaela could have been added to Boston’s 40-man roster but was instead left off. The major-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft was then cancelled as a result of the ongoing lockout, meaning other teams would not have the opportunity to pry Rafaela away from the Red Sox.

Rafaela broke minor-league camp with High-A Greenville this spring. The right-handed hitter 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.

Upon making the jump from High-A to Double-A in early June, Rafaela proceeded to slash .278/.324/.500 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). Though his production at the plate dipped with the Sea Dogs, Rafaela still led all Red Sox minor-leaguers with 63 extra-base hits and was the only member of the organization to put together a 20-20 season.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela saw the majority of his playing time in Portland come in center field. The 5-foot-8, 152-pounder logged 498 2/3 innings and recorded three outfield assists in center while also logging 103 innings at shortstop.

“I truly believe this: You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster said of Rafaela, who was named the organization’s Defensive Player of the Year for a second time back in September. “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. It’s wild the talent that this kid has.”

Abreu, 23, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Astros in the August trade that sent Christian Vazquez to Houston. The other prospect from that deal (Enmanuel Valdez) was added to the 40-man roster last Thursday so that he would not become a minor-league free agent.

As for Abreu, Baseball America currently ranks the native Venezuelan as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The left-handed hitting outfielder closed out the 2022 season by batting .242/.399/.375 with five doubles, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 25 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 36 walks, and 45 strikeouts across 40 games (168 plate appearances) with Portland. He also played in the Arizona Fall League and made appearances at both corner outfield spots for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Hamilton is undoubtedly the most surprising addition listed here. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Brewers alongside Alex Binelas and Jackie Bradley Jr. in last December’s Hunter Renfroe trade. He spent the entirety of his first season in the Red Sox organization in Portland.

With the Sea Dogs, the left-handed hitting Hamilton batted .251/.338/.402 with 16 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 81 runs scored, a franchise-record 70 stolen bases, 56 walks, and 119 strikeouts over 119 games spanning 531 trips to the plate. He is capable of playing adequate defense at either second base or shortstop.

Given that his speed is his standout tool, Hamilton’s addition to the 40-man roster may have something to do with the rule changes that are coming to Major League Baseball. Larger bases, a pitch timer, limiting throws to first base, and limits on defensive shifts certainly make speedsters such as Hamilton more appealing moving forward.

Following Tuesday’s series of moves, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is at full capacity. That will likely change between now and the non-tender deadline on Friday.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox announce winners of 2022 minor-league awards: Niko Kavadas, Brayan Bello, Ceddanne Rafaela all recognized

First baseman Niko Kavadas has been named the Red Sox’ 2022 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, the club announced Monday.

In 120 games between Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville, and Double-A Portland this season, the left-handed hitting Kavadas batted .280/.443/.547 (170 wRC+) with 25 doubles, one triple, 26 home runs, 86 RBIs, 71 runs scored, one stolen base, 102 walks, and 152 strikeouts over 515 plate appearances.

Among qualified Red Sox minor-leaguers, Kavadas ranks second in home runs, second in RBIs, first in walks, second in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS (.990), second in isolated power (.267), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Kavadas, who turns 24 next month, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

For a second consecutive season, Brayan Bello has been named the Red Sox’ Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Bello, 23, posted a 2.33 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts) and 85 innings pitched between Portland and Triple-A Worcester before making his major-league debut in early July.

The Dominican-born right-hander has since pitched to a 4.39 ERA and 2.97 FIP in 12 outings (10 starts) spanning 53 1/3 innings of work with Boston. That includes a 1.65 ERA and 2.72 FIP with 27 strikeouts to 10 walks in his last five starts (27 1/3 innings) dating back to the beginning of September. Since Bello surpassed the 50-inning mark on Sunday, he has technically graduated from his prospect status.

Like Bello, the versatile Ceddanne Rafaela was also named the Red Sox’ Minor League Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. The 22-year-old broke out in a big way in 2022 and is now considered a top-100 prospect in all of baseball.

In 116 games between Greenville and Portland this season, Rafaela saw playing time at second base, shortstop, and center field and proved capable of making highlight plays at each position. He was named Baseball America’s 2022 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year last week.

“I truly believe this: You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier recently. “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. It’s wild the talent that this kid has.”

Speaking of speedy prospects, David Hamilton has been named the Red Sox’ Baserunner of the Year. Acquired from the Brewers in the December trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee and Jackie Bradley Jr. to Boston, Hamilton stole 70 bases in 119 games with Portland this season. The 24-year-old’s 70 steals set a new franchise record for Portland and were tied for third most in the minors.

Franklin German, who began the season with Hamilton in Portland, has been named the organization’s Relief Pitcher of the Year. The 25-year-old righty posted a 2.72 ERA and 3.04 FIP with 64 strikeouts to 19 walks over 43 relief appearances (49 2/3 innings) between Portland and Worcester, prompting a big-league call-up earlier this month.

Fellow reliever Zack Kelly was the recipient of the Lou Gorman Award, given annually to “a Red Sox minor-league player who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the Major League team.” Since being recalled on August 29, Kelly has allowed just three runs over 9 2/3 innings.

Finally, infielder/outfielder Andy Lugo and right-hander Eybersson Polanco have been named the Latin Program Position Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Lugo, 18, batted .318/.368/.414 (114 wRC+) while leading the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Blue in total bases (91) and stolen bases (21). Polanco, 19, produced a 1.78 ERA and 2.96 FIP in 12 starts (50 2/3 innings) for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Red. The right-hander held opponents to a .179 batting average against and did not give up a single home run.

Each of these eight award winners were selected by the Red Sox baseball operations department and minor-league roving instructors. The recipients will be honored during a pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park prior to Monday’s series opener against the Orioles.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Ceddanne Rafaela named Baseball America’s 2022 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year

Ceddanne Rafaela was named Baseball America’s Red Sox 2022 Minor League Player of the Year on Tuesday.

That should come as no surprise. Rafaela, who just turned 22 over the weekend, entered Baseball America’s Top 100 rankings back in July and is now regarded by the publication as the No. 81 prospect in the sport

Between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland this season, Rafaela batted .299/.342/.538 (134 wRC+) with 32 doubles, 10 triples, 21 home runs, 86 RBIs, 82 runs scored, 28 stolen bases, 26 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 116 total games (522 plate appearances). The right-handed hitter slashed .278/.324/.500 (119 wRC+) with 12 homers, 50 runs driven in, 45 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 71 games (313 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs upon being promoted in early June.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela saw the majority of his playing time this season come at either shortstop or center field. In Portland in particular, the versatile 5-foot-8, 152-pounder logged 103 innings at short and 498 2/3 innings at center while making highlight reel plays at both positions.

“I truly believe this: You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier recently. “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. It’s wild the talent that this kid has.”

The Red Sox originally signed Rafaela for just $10,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Curacao in July 2017. Shortly after the five-year anniversary of his signing passed, the Willemstad native represented Boston in the All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles.

On the heels of such an impressive minor-league season, Rafaela is a sure bet to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster this fall in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft. He is also slated to play winter ball in Puerto Rico for he Criollos de Caguas, who are managed by Red Sox first base coach Ramon Vazquez.

Alex Cora, who previously managed the Criollos and spends his off-seasons in his hometown of Caguas, told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) last week that he was looking forward to getting to know Rafaela better this winter.

“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.”

In the meantime, Rafaela will look to lead the Sea Dogs to an Eastern League title. After winning 17 of its last 20 regular-season games, Portland opens a best-of-three playoff series against the Somerset Patriots at Hadlock Field on Tuesday night.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela to play winter ball in Puerto Rico

Versatile Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela will play for the Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League this winter, the club announced on Monday.

The Criollos, who have won the last two league championships, are managed by Red Sox first base coach Ramon Vazquez. Alex Cora, a native of Caguas himself, previously served as the team’s general manager.

Rafaela, who turns 22 next month, has never played winter ball before. The native Curacaoan is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 82 prospect in all of baseball.

The 2022 season has served as a breakout campaign for Rafaela. After being named the organization’s Minor League Defensive Player of the Year last fall, the 21-year-old broke camp this spring with High-A Greenville and batted .330/.368/.594 in 45 games (209 plate appearances) for the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in early June.

Since then, Rafaela has slashed .279/.337/.513 with 15 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs, 38 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 51 strikeouts over 57 games (250 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. He has not played since last Thursday after being hit on the left wrist by a pitch in the third inning of a 9-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats at Hadlock Field.

Among those in the Eastern League who have made at least 250 trips to the plate this season, the right-handed hitter ranks 11th in batting average, ninth in slugging percentage, 10th in OPS (.851), eighth in isolated power (.235), fourth in speed score (8.0), and 15th in wRC+ (128), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela has played both shortstop and centerfield since making the jump to Portland earlier this summer. While the 5-foot-8, 152-pounder has made a habit of making highlight reel plays at either position, he also has past experience at second base, third base, left field, and right field.

Rafaela, who represented the Red Sox in last month’s All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles, has clearly come a long way since signing with Boston for a mere $10,000 out of Willemstad a little more than five years ago.

Although there are still some things he could improve upon (plate discipline, for example), it seems all but certain that Rafaela will be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November so that he can receive protection from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

In the meantime, Rafaela will be looking to end the 2022 season on a strong note. The Sea Dogs open a six-game series on the road against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Tuesday, so it should be interesting to see how soon it will be until he is able to return to the lineup.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox have No. 11 farm system in MLB, per Baseball America’s latest rankings

The Red Sox have the No. 11 farm system in Major League Baseball, according to Baseball America’s midseason organization talent rankings.

Ranking behind the likes of the Orioles, Dodgers, Guardians Diamondbacks, Reds, Rangers, Cardinals, Mets, Pirates, and Rockies, the Sox are exactly where they stood prior to Opening Day.

In their most-recent top 100 prospects rankings, Baseball America placed three Boston minor-leaguers within its top 30. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer leads the pack at No. 12, while right-hander Brayan Bello and first baseman Triston Casas follow at No. 21 and No. 28, respectively.

Ceddanne Rafaela, who is in the midst of a breakout season and represented the Red Sox at the All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles, entered Baseball America’s top 100 last month and is currently regarded as the 82nd-ranked prospect in the game.

Nick Yorke, Boston’s first-round draft selection in 2020, was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 31 prospect in baseball coming into the 2022 season but has since fallen off the list completely. He is, however, batting .294/.342/.529 (127 wRC+) in his last eight games with High-A Greenville.

Baseball America notes that Mayer “looks even more like the potential star many pegged him as in the 2021 draft,” while adding that Rafaela’s breakout “has lessened the blow” of Yorke falling off the top 100.

Beyond Mayer, Bello, Casas, Rafaela, and Yorke, “there is solid depth throughout the Red Sox system, but a majority of the upside lies among a group of teenagers in rookie ball.”

Some of those teenagers in rookie ball would include Dominican outfielder Miguel Bleis, 2022 draft selections Mikey Romero, Cutter Coffey, and Roman Anthony, right-hander Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz, and shortstops Freili Encarnacion and Luis Ravelo.

Though he is no longer in rookie ball, Blaze Jordan does not turn 20 until December and is ranked by Baseball America as the top power hitter and No. 10 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer and Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

How did Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela fare in All-Star Futures Game?

Versatile Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela made his debut in the MLB All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.

Representing the Red Sox alongside top pitching prospect Brayan Bello (who was replaced on the American League roster earlier this week), Rafaela was used as a pinch-hitter in the AL’s 6-4 victory over the National League in the seven-inning showcase.

The right-handed hitter came on for Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez in the top of the fourth inning and wound up going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. Defensively, Rafaela took over at shortstop for another Yankees prospect in Anthony Volpe. He had one ball hit to him — a 74 mph grounder off the bat of Logan O’Hoppe — and fielded it cleanly to record the first out of the seventh inning.

Athletics catching prospect Shea Langeliers was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after going 1-for-2 with a solo home run. Blue Jays pitching prospect Yosver Zulueta earned the winning decision.

Rafaela, meanwhile, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 84th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

After beginning the 2022 season at High-A Greenville, Rafaela earned a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 7. Since then, the 21-year-old has batted a stout .282/.331/.564 to go along with six doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 19 RBIs, 21 runs scored, five stolen bases, five walks, and 23 strikeouts in his first 29 games (128 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela has experience at six different positions. So far with Portland, the 5-foot-8, 152-pounder has logged nine innings at second base, 36 innings at shortstop, and 202 innings in center field, which is his best position.

Originally signed by the Red Sox for just $10,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Curacao a little more than five years ago, Rafaela — who turns 22 in September — can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the second time in his career this winter.

The Red Sox would need to add Rafaela to their 40-man roster by late November in order to prevent that from happening, which now seems all but guaranteed to happen.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Ceddanne Rafaela enters Baseball America’s top 100 prospects rankings

In the midst of a breakout season, Ceddanne Rafaela has entered Baseball America’s top-100 prospect rankings. Previously unranked, Rafaela is now regarded by Baseball America as the No. 84 prospect in all of baseball.

The Red Sox at present have five of the top 100-prospects in the game, as Rafaela joins the likes of shortstop Marcelo Mayer (No. 14), right-hander Brayan Bello (No. 24), first baseman Triston Casas (No. 29), and second baseman Nick Yorke (No. 50). Outfielder Jarren Duran was previously in the top-100 but has since graduated from his prospect status.

Boston’s reigning Minor League Defensive Player of the Year, Rafaela began the 2022 season with High-A Greenville. After posting a .729 OPS with Low-A Salem last season, the 21-year-old batted a stout .330/.368/.594 in 45 games with the Drive (he also hit for the cycle on May 17) before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 7.

Since then, the right-handed hitting Rafaela has slashed a steady .287/.331/.574 to go along with six doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 19 RBIs, 21 runs scored, five stolen bases, five walks, and 23 strikeouts across his first 28 games (125 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. Among Eastern League hitters who have made at least 120 plate appearances to this point in the season, Rafaela ranks 13th in batting average, second in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.905), third in isolated power (.287), second in speed score (8.8), and 16th in wRC+ (141), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela has continued to impress defensively while playing several positions. So far in Portland, the versatile 5-foot-8, 152 pounder has logged 36 innings at shortstop and 197 innings in center field. He showed off his athleticism by robbing Mets prospect Brandon McIlwain of a game-tying home run in the fifth inning of Portland’s 7-4 win over the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Friday.

Rafaela, who turns 22 in September, has come a long way from a development standpoint since signing with the Red Sox for just $10,000 as an international free agent coming out of Curacao in July 2017. Taking that into consideration, the Willemstad native is all but a lock to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster this fall in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Both Rafaela and Bello, who also signed with Boston in 2017, will be representing the Red Sox organization in next weekend’s All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium. Bello, of course, may not be able to attend if he is still on the big-league roster.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Brayan Bello joins Ceddanne Rafaela in representing Red Sox at All-Star Futures Game

Fresh off making his major-league debut, Brayan Bello will represent the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game for the second consecutive year, Major League Baseball announced on Thursday.

Bello, 23, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 44th-ranked prospect in all of baseball. The right-hander made his first career start against the Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday night and allowed four runs on six hits, three walks, and two strikeouts over four innings in a 7-1 loss.

Of the 79 pitches Bello threw, 45 went for strikes. He averaged 97.1 mph and topped out at 97.7 mph with his four-seam fastball while also mixing in a high-80s changeup, a high-90s sinker, and a mid-80s slider, per Baseball Savant.

Prior to getting called up for the first time on Wednesday, Bello had posted a 2.81 ERA and 2.68 FIP to go along with 72 strikeouts to 21 walks over his last nine appearances (eight starts) and 51 1/3 innings pitched since earning a promotion from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Worcester in May.

At last year’s Futures Game at Coors Field, Bello yielded one run on one hit in two-thirds of the inning. This time around at Dodger Stadium, the Dominican-born hurler will be joined by other top pitching prospects around the American League such as the Rays’ Taj Bradley, the Mariners’ Emerson Hancock, the Rangers’ Jack Leiter, and the Yankees’ Ken Waldichuk.

In the scenario that Bello remains with the Sox through the All-Star break, he would then be replaced on the American League’s roster by another player.

Along with Bello, versatile prospect Ceddanne Rafaela will also be representing the Red Sox in Los Angeles on July 16. This will be Rafaela’s first trip to the Futures Game. The 21-year-old has burst onto the scene this season and is currently ranked by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Both Bello and Rafaela signed with the Red Sox as international free-agents coming out of the Dominican Republic and Curacao on July 2, 2017, respectively. They have never played for the same affiliate at the same time before.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Ceddanne Rafaela to represent Red Sox in All-Star Futures Game

Ceddanne Rafaela will represent the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium later this month, Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday.

Full rosters for the American and National League squads will be revealed on Thursday, but eight participants — including Rafaela — were unveiled earlier Wednesday morning on MLB Network Radio.

Rafaela, 21, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the 22nd-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the versatile infielder/outfielder for just $10,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Curacao in July 2017.

After earning Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors within the organization in 2021, Rafaela began the 2022 campaign at High-A Greenville. In 45 games with the Drive, the speedy right-handed hitter batted a stout .330/.368/.594 (155 wRC+) with 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 36 RBIs, 37 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 51 strikeouts over 209 plate appearances. He even hit for the cycle on May 17.

That level of production at High-A earned Rafaela a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 7. Since then, the Willemstad native has slashed .278/.333/.578 (143 wRC+) with five doubles, two triples, six homers, 18 RBIs, 14 runs scored, three stolen bases, five walks, and 20 strikeouts in his first 23 games (100 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs.

Listed at 5-foot-8 and 152 pounds, Rafaela has experience at all three outfield positions and every infield position besides first base. This season alone between Greenville and Portland, he has seen playing time at second base, third base, and (primarily) center field.

Rafaela, who turns 22 in September, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the second time in his career this winter. And, unlike last year, he now appears to be a slam dunk to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to receive Rule 5 protection.

While Rafaela may not be alone in representing the Red Sox at the All-Star Futures Game, he will definitely be heading to Los Angeles on July 16 to participate in the seven-inning showcase.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)