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)

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)

Red Sox’ Brayan Bello recognized by MLB Pipeline as top international prospect in Boston’s farm system

With the 2021-2022 international signing window officially opening this weekend, MLB Pipeline recently identified each team’s top international prospect across Major League Baseball.

For the Red Sox, that was none other than pitching prospect Brayan Bello, who signed with Boston out of the Dominican Republic for just $28,000 back in July 2017.

Then just 18 years old, Bello has since emerged as one of the premier young hurlers in the Sox’ farm system at the age of 22.

This past season, the right-hander began the year in the starting rotation High-A Greenville and quickly made strides there. He posted a 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to seven walks over six starts (31 2/3 innings pitched) for the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in early June.

With the Sea Dogs, Bello picked up where he left off by pitching to the tune of a 4.66 ERA — but much more respectable 3.12 FIP — with 87 strikeouts and 24 walks across 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work.

During his run in Portland, Bello was selected to represent the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field alongside infielder Jeter Downs. He allowed one run on one hit while recording the final two outs of the third inning of that contest on July 11.

At the conclusion of the 2021 minor-league season, Bello was recognized by the Sox and was named the organization’s starting pitcher of the year. The fiery righty was subsequently added to the club’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Bello operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball that touches 98 mph, a changeup, and a slider. He is also in the midst of developing a two-seamer, according to Baseball America.

In terms of prospect ranks, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks tops among pitchers in the organization. The Samana native is also ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top pitching prospect the Red Sox have in the fold.

Bello, who turns 23 in May, is presently projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the upcoming 2022 campaign with Portland. That being said, an early promotion to Triple-A Worcester certainly seems possible depending on the kind of start he gets off to in the spring.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospects in the Futures Game: How did Brayan Bello, Jeter Downs fare in showcase?

While the Red Sox were in the process of falling to the Phillies by a final score of 5-4 at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon, two of the brightest prospects in Boston’s farm system were showcasing their talent nearly 2,000 miles away at Coors Field in Denver.

Infielder Jeter Downs and right-hander Brayan Bello both represented the Red Sox while playing for the American League in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game, and both prospects were able to get into the game.

Bello, who is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 9 pitching prospect in the Red Sox farm system, came on in relief of Rangers prospect Cole Ragans with one out in the bottom of third inning.

Inheriting a situation in which the American League was already trailing 3-0 and the National League had a runner on first base, Bello’s first pitch — a 97.7 mph fastball — was sent flying off the bat of Cardinals prospect Nolan Gorman, who reached second base on a hard-hit double before advancing to third on a wild pitch.

With that potential run just 90 feet away from scoring, Bello proceeded to give up a sacrifice fly to Padres catcher Luis Campusano that plated Gorman, but then rebounded by getting the Braves’ Michael Harris to line out to second to put an end to an inning as well as his outing.

Of the 11 pitches the 22-year-old hurler threw on Sunday, seven went for strikes, though he only induced one swing-and-miss, which came on an 0-0 changeup to Campusano.

Besides that, Bello averaged 97.9 mph with the four four-seam fastballs he threw while topping out at 98.1 mph with his well-regarded heater. He also threw five sliders and three changeups in total.

Bello, who originally signed with the Sox out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 back in 2017, is enjoying a breakout season in 2021.

Opening the year with High-A Greenville, the 6-foot-1, 170 pound righty went 5-0 while posting a 2.27 ERA and 2.62 xFIP with 45 strikeouts to just seven walks over six starts spanning 31 2/3 innings of work before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 8.

Since then, Bello has produced an ERA of 3.06 and xFIP of 3.81 to go along with 22 strikeouts and eight walks in five starts (17 2/3 innings pitched) with the Sea Dogs.

Downs, meanwhile, came off the bench in the fifth inning of Sunday’s seven-inning exhibition, as he took over at second base for Rays prospect Xavier Edwards.

Facing off against Nationals 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli in his first trip to the plate, Downs was bombarded by a barrage of high-octane fastballs that ranged between 98.4 mph and 100.4 mph.

The talented right-handed hitter was able foul off five of the first seven pitches he saw from Cavalli, but ultimately went down swinging on a 2-2, 91 mph changeup in the dirt that caught him off-balance.

In the seventh inning, however, Downs bounced back against Brewers left-hander Ethan Small.

With one out and runners on first and second, Downs took an 0-1, 92 mph fastball up and on the inner half of the plate and ripped a two-run double to deep left field that left his bat at a scorching 107.7 mph, making it the fourth hardest-hit ball of the day between both sides.

Downs was responsible for two of the three runs the American League scored, as the National League went on to take the showcase by a final score of 8-3.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old — one of three players acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade — is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system and trails only fellow infielder Triston Casas for the top spot.

2021 has marked Downs’ first exposure to the Triple-A level, and the first half of the minor-league season has proven to be an adjustment period for the native of Colombia.

Through 44 games (188 plate appearances) with Triple-A Worcester this year, Downs is boasting a .234/.309/.377 slash line (83 wRC+) to go along with three doubles, seven home runs, 17 RBI, 22 runs scored, 17 walks, and 55 strikeouts.

That said, Downs will look to get back on track after a decent showing in Denver, as the WooSox open up a seven-game series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park on Tuesday night.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Fourth-Ranked Prospect Jarren Duran Blasts First Home Run for Double-A Portland

Red Sox outfield Prospect Jarren Duran crushed his first Eastern League home run as part of a 1-for-3 afternoon in a 9-0 win for the Portland Sea Dogs over the Erie SeaWolves on Thursday.

Now ranked as the fourth-best prospect in Boston’s farm system, it appears that Duran has started to figure it out at the Double-A level.

Since his promotion from High-A Salem to Portland on June 3rd, the 22-year-old is slashing .262/.320/.323 over his last 58 games.

Those numbers may not seem all that impressive when you consider how Duran tore up the Carolina League to begin 2019, but they have been on the rise in the recent weeks.

For instance, the California native came into the month of July with a .211/.279/.263 slash line to go along with three stolen bases and six RBI in his first 24 games with the Sea Dogs.

Once the calendar flipped to July though, Duran began to turn a corner at the plate. That much is evident by how he is slashing a gaudy .386/.421/.486 with that one homer, seven RBI, and nine stolen bases in his last 18 games going back to July 20th.

Given how much he has rose through the prospect rankings this year, it’s easy to forget that Duran is still in his first full season of professional baseball after being selected by Boston in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Long Beach State.

Duran was the Sox’ lone representative at the 2019 Futures Game in Cleveland last month, where he went 1-for-2 off the bench with a seventh inning single.

 

Red Sox’ Ninth-Ranked Prospect Jarren Duran Goes 1-For-2 with Seventh Inning Single in 2019 All-Star Futures Game

In his first ever MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran went 1-for-2 with a single after entering as a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Selected to the showcase on June 28th, Duran bounced out to second in his first at-bat against Padres prospect Adrian Morejon to lead off the sixth.

An inning later, after the AL side had tied things up at two on a one-out, two-run home run from Sam Huff, Duran came to the plate with the potential winning run at second following an Isaac Parades double and the chance to walk it off.

Facing off against Rockies prospect Ben Bowden this time around, Duran nearly came through with a line-drive, opposite field hit to left on a 2-0 four-seamer, but the ball tailed off to foul territory.

Instead, the 22-year-old settled for a bloop single to left on a 3-2, 93 MPH heater from Bowden, one that left fielder Alek Thomas kept in front of him to hold Parades at third.

Another Padres prospect in the form of right-hander Luis Patino came in for Bowden after that Duran base hit, and this contest finished in a 2-2 after eight competitive frames.

Ranked as the ninth-best prospect in Boston’s system, Duran has slashed .240/.298/.298 with five doubles, one triple, six stolen bases, and six RBI in 30 games since being promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland on June 3rd.

2019 is Duran’s first full season in professional baseball after being selected by the Red Sox in the seventh round of the 2018 amatuer draft, so to make the Futures Game this quickly is surely a promising step for the young outfielder.

On another note, Miami Marlins sixth-ranked prospect Isan Diaz, a 23-year-old shortstop out of Puerto Rico who moved to Springfield at the age of four and attended Central High School, went 0-for-3 with a walk for the National League squad.

Red Sox Promote Seventh-Ranked Prospect Bryan Mata to Double-A Portland

For the second time in less than two weeks, the Red Sox have promoted a top right-handed pitching prospect within their organization, this time with right-hander Bryan Mata getting the call up from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland on Monday, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Mata, 20, is currently ranked as Boston’s seventh-best overall prospect and second among right-handed pitchers on MLB.com.

Signed as an international free agent as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela, Mata began the 2019 campaign with the High-A Salem Red Sox, where he posted a dazzling 1.75 ERA and .201 batting average against over 10 starts and 51 1/3 innings of work.

Selected as the Red Sox’ lone representative in the 2018 Futures Game in Washington D.C., Mata has done a great deal to cut down on walks since then.

In 72 full frames with Salem last year, the young hurler handed out 58 free passes, or averaged 7.25 per nine innings.

This year, in those aforementioned 51 1/3 innings pitched, Mata has allowed just 18 walks total, or 3.16 per nine.

According to his SoxProspects.com profile, Mata features a four-seam fastball that hovers between 94-96 MPH and tops out at 98 MPH, a slider/cutter hybrid he added this season that hovers around 86-90 MPH, a curveball that hovers between 78-80 MPH and has an 11-5 break, and a changeup that hovers between 84-86 MPH.

Mata will join fellow right-handed prospect Kutter Crawford (No. 19), who was promoted on June 21st, in Portland’s starting rotation and will also make his Eastern League debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Trenton Thunder on Tuesday.

 

Red Sox’ Ninth-Ranked Prospect Jarren Duran Selected for 2019 MLB All-Star Futures Game

Rosters for the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game were announced on Friday, and the Red Sox will be sending just one representative to Cleveland next month in outfield prospect Jarren Duran.

Ranked as Boston’s ninth-best prospect on MLB.com, Duran will join 24 other prospects representing the American League in the Futures Game in Cleveland on July 7th.

For the last 20 years, the showcase was formatted so that the rosters were divided between U.S.-born and international-born players, but that all changes in 2019, as former Cleveland Indians great Jim Thome will be managing the American League side and long-time right-hander Dennis Martinez will be doing the same for the NL.

This honor is a first for Duran, who was promoted to Double-A Portland on June 3rd after a torrid start to the season with High-A Salem, where he led the Carolina League in hitting with a .387 batting average.

Initially, that promotion led to some struggles for the speedy 22-year-old, as he went just 6-for-38 (.158) with two doubles, one triple, and two RBI in his first 10 games with the Sea Dogs, but has since picked things up a bit over his last 11 contests, batting .250 (11-for-44) with one double and three runs driven in over that span.

Granted, Duran’s on-base percentage has fallen from .304 to .286 in that stretch, but that comes as his slugging percentage has slightly risen from .263 to .268 as well.

The call up to Portland has surely been a period of adjustment for the Sox’ 2018 seventh round draft pick out of Long Beach State, but to be named to the Futures Game in your first full season of professional baseball is pretty impressive nonetheless.

Top #RedSox Pitching Prospect Bryan Mata Tosses Scoreless Inning for World Team in 2018 MLB Futures Game.

While the Red Sox were wrapping up a 5-2 win over the Blue Jays in Boston on Sunday afternoon, All-Star festivities had already begun down south in the nation’s capital.

Yes, the Futures Game is always something to look forward to before the big names make their way to baseball’s Midsummer Classic, and yesterday, the Red Sox were represented by one prospect by the name of Bryan Mata.

Mata, 19, gave up one hit, one walk, and struck out one in a scoreless inning of work for the World team while consistently reaching 94-96 MPH with his two-seam fastball and 75-79 MPH with his curveball.

It certainly was not a clean outing for the Venezuela native, as he had runners on second and third with just one out, but he escaped any further damage, thanks in part to this strikeout of Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers for the second out of the inning.

Mata.gif

Just look at the sweeping action on that curveball.

Ranked as the #2 prospect in the organization according to SoxProspects.com, Mata has been with the Red Sox since he signed as an international free agent on January 27th, 2016 as a 16 year-old out of Maracay, Venezuela.

Listed at 6’3″ and 160 lbs., Mata, a righty, owns a 3.42 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 16 games started and 71 innings pitched for High A Salem this season.

Per SoxProspects, Mata has a, “Long way to go developmentally, but a very intriguing arm. Has the profile of a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher. Already shows the beginnings of a three-pitch mix and has a projectable frame. Has shown the ability to miss bats with both his fastball and changeup already, though his curveball lags behind. Physical development will be key given how skinny he is at present.”

Since he’s still so young, I would not expect Mata to sniff a Major League roster for at least another two years. The possibility of being used as a trade piece is certainly there, but in terms of Red Sox pitching prospects, he may be the most interesting one the organization has seen in a while.