Red Sox MiLB manager’s Mookie Betts comparison is thrilling

Greenville Drive's Ceddanne Rafaela attempts to catch the ball during practice at Fluor Field Wednesday, April 6, 2022.Jm Drive 040622 003
Greenville Drive's Ceddanne Rafaela attempts to catch the ball during practice at Fluor Field Wednesday, April 6, 2022.Jm Drive 040622 003 /
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Ceddanne Rafaela’s emergence as a legitimate big-league-caliber prospect has been one of the lone bright spots for Boston Red Sox fans this year.

Over 114 games between High- and Double-A, the 21-year-old hit .303/.346/.547 with 143 hits, including 32 doubles, 10 triples, and 21 home runs, including a grand slam on Wednesday night that cemented the Portland SeaDogs’ playoff berth. He scored 82 times, drove in 86 runs, and stole 28 bases in 35 attempts. Combine all that with his standout defense, and it’s easy to see why evaluators within and outside the organization are already predicting an elite future in the majors.

Red Sox Double-A says breakout prospect better than Mookie Betts was at that level

Rafaela is making a name for himself all on his own, but he also received a significant comparative compliment from his Double-A manager last week:

"“Mookie can be [ticked] at me, but this kid runs circles around where [Betts] was [defensively] at this point in time. That’s how special this kid is. You have to see it.”"

High praise, indeed.

Rafaela’s astoundingly smooth transition from the infield to the outfield with Double-A this season is eerily reminiscent of Mookie Betts moving from second base to the outfield when he was at the same level in 2014. Less than two months later, he made his big-league debut. He didn’t win his first Gold Glove until 2016, but it became the first of five consecutive Gold Glove seasons.

For Sox fans, Betts’ name is bittersweet, a combination of gratitude for his greatness, and frustration that another team is now benefitting from his prodigious skill. In 2018, he made history as the first player to win the MVP, batting title, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and a World Series in the same season. But poorly-executed extension negotiations led to the Sox trading him to the Dodgers before the 2020 season. Much like the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees almost exactly a century before, the sting of losing Betts will linger for years, if not decades.

Still, Betts remains one of the best players the Sox have ever drafted and developed. Rafaela, signed out of Curaçao for $10K in 2017, could soon be considered the same.

Hopefully, the Sox will have learned to pay their homegrown stars by then.

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