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Meet The New Guy: Ceddanne Rafaela

He’s a wiz with the glove. . . and maybe with the bat, too.

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s Ceddanne Rafaela, an exciting but polarizing prospect who singled in his Major League debut for the Red Sox last night.

What position does he play?

He’s a centerfielder and a shortstop, and he’s damn good at both. In the year 2001, the Little League World Series doubled the amount of participating teams from 8 to 16, creating a designated spot for a team from the Caribbean region in doing so. Teams from Curacao, a Dutch island of around 150,000 people off the coast of Venezuela, have been dominating that region ever since.

I’ve always loved watching the Curacao team for two reasons: (1) for years, every single kid on the team would say their favorite player was Andruw Jones, and there was something meditative about hearing his name repeated over and over again as the players introduced themselves before each game, and (2) like their hero, the players on the Curacao team always seemed to be outstanding defenders, flying all over the field and making great plays.

The island’s apparent love for great defense produced Andrelton Simmons, arguably the best defensive player in recent memory. Ceddanne may very well be Andrelton’s heir apparent, as his glove could be elite at either position, though the consensus is that he’s better in center.

Wait, how do you say that name?

Pronouncing the names of minor leaguers you’ve only read about can be a land mine, huh? This one’s actually easy though: it’s say-dahn.

Is he any good?

Well, like I said, his glove is outstanding; some scouts think he’s already one of the very best centerfielders in the world. The big question about Rafaela is the bat.

Ceddanne has been outstanding at the plate this season, as he was last year. In 48 games with Worcester, he hit 14 home runs while slashing .312/.370/.618. But there’s a giant red flag attached to those numbers: Ceddanne is incredibly undisciplined at the plate. He swung at 55.1% of all pitches he saw at AAA this year, which is above MLB average and signals an approach similar to that of guys like Jorge Alfaro and Christian Arroyo, who put up putrid OBPs of .212 and .268 this season, respectively. And bear in mind: Ceddanne swung that much even though plate discipline was the main thing he’s been working at all season long.

Obviously, his approach didn’t hinder him much in the minors. But the concern with Rafaela has always been that it will catch up him eventually as he faces more talented pitchers with better command. His glove is good enough that he’s going to be a Major Leaguer no matter what, but his range of outcomes is vast. He could be an all-glove/no-hit guy who struggles to ever be more than a fourth outfielder, or he could be a five-tool star.

Show me a cool highlight.

Honestly, you could spend an hour just watching Ceddanne’s defensive highlights. And frankly, you should. What else do you have to do today, work? Work is for suckers. Here’s one to give you a little taste:

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Pity-laughing at yet another dad joke from Bryan Bello, who just can’t stop making corny puns after becoming a father last month.

What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?

It kind of depends on what happens over the next week or so. If the Sox stay in the postseason hunt, expect him to be little more than a defensive replacement and/or pinch runner who only gets occasional starts. But if they keep slipping down the standings, it’ll become “let’s see what we have for 2024” time soon, and Rafaela could get an extended run down the stretch.