Rafaela shows off light-tower power with 1st big league homer

Abreu puts defense on display in G2; Devers joins elite group with 30th homer in G1

September 13th, 2023

BOSTON -- Along with his wiry 5-foot-9 frame, No. 3 Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela also has light-tower power.

And that’s what made the right-handed hitter’s first Major League homer one he will never forget.

Leading off the bottom of the first inning for Boston in Game 2 of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Yankees, Rafaela, ranked No. 72 in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, belted a first-pitch fastball against Yankees lefty Carlos Rodón off one of Fenway Park's light stanchions above the Green Monster.

On a day the Red Sox suffered a twin bill sweep at the hands of the Yankees by scores of 3-2 in Game 1 and 4-1 in Game 2 that left the rivals in a tie for fourth place in the American League East, Rafaela’s moonshot was the clear highlight.

Did Rafaela ever smash one off a light tower before?

“Not that I remember,” Rafaela said. “It was fun. It didn’t finish the way I wanted with a victory but it’s OK, we’ll bounce back tomorrow and keep grinding.”

Rafaela’s blast was belted at an exit velocity of 103.8 mph and a launch angle of 35 degrees while traveling a Statcast-projected distance of 400 feet.

“Good swing, he got a fastball in the zone,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He put together some good at-bats. The double to right-center [later in the game]. It’s a good at-bat, he’s a good athlete. That was fun to watch.”

Now that the Red Sox are out of realistic contention for a postseason spot, Rafaela is going to play a lot down the stretch to get a hard start on his true rookie season of 2024.

While the 22-year-old’s bat is what came to the forefront on Tuesday, he is already an impact defender in center field, and most scouts consider him to be a plus defender at short.

Cora said the club is also going to get him reps at second base, be it this month or down the road.

Will Rafaela’s future be at one position, or could he morph into a super-utility player?

“I think that that’s a question for later,” said Cora. “The fact that he can be versatile, I think the second base part of it is real. We believe he can do it too, it’s just a matter if we play him there in September. But versatility is a big part of this game. It helps your roster.

“He’s a good defender at short and center field and other positions. Talking to [Triple-A Worcester manager] Chad Tracy, he takes grounders at third and he looks like a natural. So he’s a good athlete that can do it all and we’ll see what the future holds.”

Abreu shows off arm in left
Rafaela wasn’t the only call-up to impress in Game 2. Wilyer Abreu came off the bench and made a standout play in left field.

Oswald Peraza belted a two-out single in the eighth, and the Yankees figured they could get Isiah Kiner-Falefa home from second. Abreu had other ideas, throwing a laser to the plate, as Connor Wong tagged out Kiner-Falefa by several feet.

Abreu’s 235-foot throw seared to the plate at 91.7 mph, per Statcast. The throw came three days after Abreu went 5-for-5 in Saturday’s 13-12 loss to the Orioles.

“He’s a good player. A really good player. That was a great throw,” said Cora of Boston's No. 17 prospect. “He’s working hard with [outfield instructor Kyle Hudson] on a lot of things. We’re moving him around.”

And earlier in the day …
In Game 1, star slugger Rafael Devers hit his elusive 30th homer of the season after going 91 plate appearances without a long ball.

Devers reached a milestone, becoming the third player in Red Sox history to have three 30-homer seasons prior to turning 27. The other two? Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Jim Rice.

“I feel happy to be in that group,” said Devers. “I know the superstars they were when they played and to be able to be in that conversation, of course, it makes me happy. But I know there’s still more work to do and more ground to cover.”