Taylor Swift asks the immortal question:
“Is it too soon to do this yet?”
But I’m going to say it: I’m in that new-relationship haze over Ceddanne Rafaela right now.
I love that he was a Red Sox fan growing up (although Chipper Jones is the inspiration for one of his middle names because his mom was a fan of Atlanta’s team).
I love that his first major league swing led to his first hit (a single).
This is an obscenely small sample size (about one week’s worth!) but he’s gone hitless only once since his call-up. I love it. His .467 OBP is solely from his batting average (he has zero walks as of this writing, which I’d like to see him work on.)
I love his enthusiasm.
“It’s everything I’ve always wanted in my life.” - Ceddanne Rafaela, on playing for the Red Sox
The flip side of his batting average right now is his strikeout rate. It’s an ungodly 40% (see: small sample size) and this surely will improve, though he’s certainly known for being undisciplined at the plate and swinging freely.
Although Ceddanne has even started at short in order to rest Trevor Story, betting money has him as a steady outfielder moving forward. His versatility (including at second base) is great though and will surely come in handy; we know how Alex Cora loves to move players around the diamond.
I’ve heard the comparisons to Mookie Betts and of course that’s compelling. The versatility, the athleticism, the multiple tools, the potential. Yes to all of that.
But I see someone else instead. Rickey Henderson.
There’s the base stealing, of course; it’s Ceddanne’s potential as a big-league thief that really has me rubbing my hands together. He hasn’t stolen a base yet at this level but it will come. After all, he lit up both Double and Triple A in that area all season long.
His stolen base total for 2023 in the minor leagues (between Portland and Worcester) was 36. He stole six bases in one game for the Sea Dogs (a franchise record). He once stole three bases in three innings.
Cora (so far) seems to think of Ceddanne as a lead-off hitter, although his numbers in Worcester were actually better when he hit third.
But his leadoff numbers are not shabby at all, either in the minors or in our small sample size with the big-league club, and he can hit for power too. Sounds like Rickey to me (though an OPB over .400 may be asking a lot for Ceddanne).
I didn’t like the A’s (whose late-80s/early-90s dominance overlapped exactly with my college years in the Bay Area) but I loved Rickey. I came thissss clossssse to catching a Rickey Henderson foul ball at the Oakland Coliseum…way out along the first base line, but I stood down and let the little guy behind me get it. Even pre-internet, I didn’t like the thought of being immortalized for wrassling some kid for a ball. (Do I have second thoughts about that now? I might.)
Something that always stuck in my mind about Rickey was the origin story behind his stolen base empire. Unless his uniform was filthy, his mother would give him a hard time when he came home from Little League because for her, working hard meant getting dirty. And if he wasn’t dirty, he obviously hadn’t tried very hard. Rickey learned that the quickest and most guaranteed way to placate his mom was to actually lay down in the dirt, of course. So began his long career of stealing bases.
Rafaela has that similar muddy look all over the front of his uniform and I love it. Bring it on and here’s to a great career with the Red Sox.