Sunday Notes: Ceddanne Rafaela May Be Boston’s Reply in Middle (or Brief)

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The Purple Sox have query marks in middle area and at shortstop, and Ceddanne Rafaela may ultimately be the reply at both place. Or each. One in every of Boston’s prime prospects, the 22-year-old native of Curaçao profiles because the group’s greatest defender on the grass, and he’s almost as adept on the grime. Furthermore, he can swing the bat. Enjoying at Excessive-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, Rafaela put up a 134 wRC+ whereas logging 32 doubles, 10 triples, and 21 house runs.

How quickly he’s deemed big-league-ready is a query that looms each bit as giant as that of his main place going ahead. Rafaela is coming off of a season the place he performed 92 video games in middle, versus simply 21 at quick, however alternative is knocking far louder on the latter. With Xander Bogaerts leaving for San Diego and Trevor Story going beneath the knife, Boston has an enormous void to fill. Enrique Hernández may match the invoice, however he’s higher fitted to second base or middle area.

What does the unhealthy information the Purple Sox acquired on Story earlier this week imply for Rafaela’s near-term future? I requested that query to Chaim Bloom.

“I feel we’d ill-served by sidetracking correct growth for him in response to this,” Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer replied. “He’s a extremely thrilling participant, and we’re excited for him to influence us, however there’s nonetheless growth left.”

Following up, I requested the under-fire government if the plan is for Rafaela to proceed to play each positions.

“I don’t suppose we’ll change something along with his growth,” replied Bloom. “He’s excellent in middle; he took to that place effectively. A few of our employees inform me this man could be each the most effective defensive centerfielder and the most effective defensive infielder within the group. Opinions will differ relying on who you ask, however we’ve got individuals who consider that.”

Rafaela’s introduction to the outfield got here in 2021, the identical yr Boston drafted highschool shortstop Marcelo Mayer fourth general. Signed in 2017, Rafaela debuted the next yr and performed 44 video games at third base, and one other 11 at shortstop, as a 17-year-old within the Dominican Summer time League. When he got here stateside the next yr, he added second base to the combo and performed the same variety of video games at every of these three infield positions. In response to Ben Crockett — on the time Boston’s farm director, and now their Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations — the group needed to make the most of the teenager’s athleticism and increase his positional resume.

With Bloom’s “opinions will differ” remark in thoughts, I requested Crockett what the outcomes could be if Purple Sox scouts and player-development personnel have been introduced with this ballot: Is middle area or shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela’s greatest place?

“I’m unsure,” responded Crockett. “I don’t need to converse for different individuals, as a result of he has the potential to do each, however I do suppose that places him in a extremely good place. But when all else was equal, and it wasn’t about becoming in — if it wasn’t a few path to the massive leagues — I’d love him in middle. However once more, he may do each, and never only one or the opposite.”

I requested the identical query to Brian Abraham, who now serves because the crew’s Director of Participant Improvement.

“I feel you’ll get some totally different solutions,” stated Abraham. “They’re clearly two premier positions. I might lean centerfielder, however I can promise you that there are individuals in our group who most likely really feel that he’d be a greater shortstop. Clearly, the flexibility to play each is fairly invaluable.”

As for the probability that Rafaela will influence the Purple Sox roster as quickly as this season — no less than early within the season — Abraham primarily echoed Bloom.

“You possibly can’t take the offense with out the protection, and you may’t take the protection with out the offense,” Abraham informed me. “He’s a plus defender at a number of spots, so I feel when he involves spring coaching, [Alex Cora] gained’t have any downside placing Ceddanne on the market. And pay attention, he has actually good at-bats on the plate — I don’t suppose there’s any doubt that he can face major-league pitching — however doing it persistently is one thing he nonetheless has to work on.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Al Martin went 1 for 4 in opposition to Luther Hackman.

Junior Felix went 5 for 14 in opposition to Eric King.

Jim Ray Hart went 5 for 16 in opposition to Dick Selma.

Darrin Jackson went 1 for five in opposition to Jeff Montgomery.

Johnny Temple went 2 for 8 in opposition to Marshall Bridges.

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Matt McLain had a considerably sudden first full skilled season in 2022. As Eric Longenhagen defined earlier this week, the No. 7 entry on our Cincinnati Reds Top Prospects list noticed his profile do a 180, and is now “kind of a slam dunk shortstop with a power-over-hit offensive ability set.” Enjoying at Double-A Chattanooga, McLain left the yard 17 occasions whereas slashing .232/.363/.453.

The infielder whom our lead prospect analyst assigned a forty five FV was glad along with his summer time.

“I discovered loads,” McLain informed me throughout his subsequent stint within the Arizona Fall League. “There have been rising pains going from faculty to Double-A, so it was lot of excellent, some unhealthy, and a bunch of stuff in between. While you’re enjoying in opposition to older, extra skilled guys, you’ve received to adapt. You’ve received to change into a greater participant your self in an effort to succeed. Total, it was a very good season.”

That the 23-year-old infielder performed three collegiate seasons is a part of his story. McLain was drafted twenty fifth general in 2018 out of an Irvine, California highschool, however quite than signal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he opted to attend UCLA. Trying again, he feels that he made the fitting choice.

“I grew loads, each as an individual and with baseball,” stated McLain, who informed me that the Diamondbacks supply had been for slot. “Not signing was mainly that the quantity I put on the market was what’s it going to take me to go up UCLA. It was some huge cash, and on the finish of the day they didn’t supply that. I moved on and received higher. I did what I did at UCLA.”

As for what he’ll go on to do in professional ball, McLain doesn’t essentially see himself as profiling as power-over-hit.

“I need to be a gap-to-gap man, hit line drives, and get on base to attain runs,” he stated. “I’d wish to steal bases. I’d additionally wish to strike out much less — I struck out an excessive amount of this yr — and do a greater job of controlling the strike zone. I need to be a greater all-around hitter. I need to be a greater participant general.”

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A quiz:

Stan Musial’s 3,630 hits are essentially the most in St. Louis Cardinals franchise historical past. Who ranks second?

The reply will be discovered beneath.

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NEWS NOTES

The Chicago White Sox have employed former Washington Nationals Assistant Basic Supervisor Sam Mondry-Cohen as an analyst. Mondry-Cohen was featured here at FanGraphs in January 2020.

Josh Herzenberg is becoming a member of Driveline within the newly-created position of Supervisor of Participant Personnel. The previous FanGraphs contributor was with the San Francisco Giants final yr as Assistant Director, Participant Improvement, and earlier than that spent two years with the KBO’s Lotte Giants.

Nicholas Badders has been employed as the brand new play-by-play voice of the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. The graduate of Arizona State College’s Walter Cronkite Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication spent the final two seasons with the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

Lee Tinsley, a switch-hitting outfielder who performed for 3 groups from 1993-1997, died earlier this week at age 53. The Shelbyville, Kentucky native had 210 big-league hits, together with a profession excessive 97 for the Boston Purple Sox in 1995.

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The reply to the quiz is Lou Brock, who logged 2,713 of his 3,023 profession hits with the Cardinals.

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One of the best base-stealer you’ve possibly by no means heard of? It would very effectively be George Case. Enjoying for the Washington Senators, the speedy outfielder led the American League in stolen bases for 5 straight seasons (1939-1943), and he did so once more in 1946 with Cleveland. Case’s 61 thefts in 1943 have been a profession excessive, however the 51 baggage he pilfered in 1939 have been much more notable. Nobody else within the junior circuit had greater than 23 steals that yr.

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Andrew Miller and Spencer Strider have been co-guests on Friday’s episode of FanGraphs Audio, and never surprisingly, every was entertaining and informative. The dialog coated quite a few matters, baseball and non-baseball alike, and included pitch utilization. Addressing a query from the previous big-leaguer, the runner-up in final season’s NL Rookie-of-the-Yr balloting informed how making an attempt to increase a repertoire isn’t all the time the most effective thought.

“I feel the lure is to attempt to get extra difficult,” Strider stated to Miller. “In actuality, it’s the simplification of sticking to your strengths. I completed the 2020 yr on the alt web site. I used to be throwing more durable. We recognized — we lastly had good evaluation on my fastball — to say, ‘Sure, throw a four-seam fastball; it’s very efficient, it’s a plus fastball.’ However I made a decision to attempt to throw a cutter, curveball, slider, changeup, and sinker that offseason. I got here into spring coaching and in my first bullpen I may need thrown one strike. They stated, ‘Hey, you’re horrible. What the heck’s happening?’ So, the simplification primarily based on the information that stated, ‘You’ve got one actually good pitch, why wouldn’t you throw that essentially the most?’ allowed me to type of get again on observe.”

Notable among the many non-baseball matters was Miller’s and Strider’s mutual love of music. The latter shared that he’s begun gathering vinyl, and that Mac DeMarco’s “This Outdated Canine” presently tops his playlist. The previous informed how he’s wanting ahead to a Jason Isbell live performance, and the way he beforehand noticed the artist carry out at Purple Rocks.

Your complete phase —it additionally contains why Strider initially felt intimidated by Charlie Morton, and why Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez despatched Miller on a espresso errand — is effectively well worth the pay attention.

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The Brisbane Bandits are dominating the Australian Baseball League with a file of 28-8. The highest hitter has been Brisbane’s T.J. Bennett, who has a 1.058 OPS and a league-best 16 house runs. A 29-year-old infielder who was within the San Francisco Giants system from 2016-2018, Bennett spent the 2022 season with the impartial American Affiliation’s Lake Nation DockHounds.

Otto Lopez is slashing .304/.353/.380 in 88 plate appearances for the Dominican Winter League’s Leones del Escogido. The 24-year-old infielder within the Toronto Blue Jays group had six hits in 9 big-league at-bats in 2022.

Brandon Waddell has signed with the Chinese language Skilled Baseball League’s Rakuten Monkeys. The 28-year-old southpaw, whose 11 MLB appearances have include 4 totally different groups, pitched for the KBO’s Doosan Bears final yr.

NPB’s Yomiuri Giants have reportedly reached an settlement with Lewis Brinson. The 28-year-old outfielder performed with the San Francisco Giants final yr after spending the earlier 5 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins.

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Who was/is healthier, Xander Bogaerts or Nomar Garciaparra? I requested that query in a Twitter poll this week, and whereas the pattern dimension was small — solely 151 individuals bothered to supply an opinion — I’ll share the outcomes anyway: Garciaparra garnered 55.6% of the votes solid, whereas Bogaerts received 44.4%.

Via his age-29 season (he turned 30 on October 1), the Purple-Sox-turned-Padres shortstop has 34.2 WAR and a 118 wRC+. Via his personal age-29 season, Garciaparra — these numbers all coming with Boston — had 38.5 WAR and a 134 wRC+. To that time of their respective careers, who the higher participant is appears fairly clear.

That Garciaparra proceeded to fall off the proverbial cliff makes the general comparability a bit muddier. Due primarily to accidents, Garciaparra had simply 3.0 WAR and a 104 wRC+ from his age-30 season onward. The downward spiral was unhappy to see. Followers at Fenway Park used to chant “Nomah’s higher” when Derek Jeter was on the plate, and the numbers again that up. Jeter clearly went on to be an excellent participant via age 40, which is a giant purpose why he was a first-ballot Corridor of Famer.

What is going to Bogaerts do going ahead, and the way will he finally evaluate to Garciaparra (and Jeter)? Time will inform.

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C. Trent Rosecrans and I each put ten checkmarks on our Corridor-of-Fame ballots this yr, and so they have been for a similar gamers. A handful of different ballots I’ve seen have been equivalent: Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltrán, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramírez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, and Billy Wagner. The alternatives themselves aren’t what’s prompting this word. What’s, is seven phrases Trent wrote when addressing his selections at The Athletic:

“I err on the aspect of inclusion.”

As a self-identifying big-Corridor voter, that concisely-expressed sentiment resonates with me. As has been acknowledged many occasions, by many individuals, there are various levels of greatness; not each participant with a plaque in Cooperstown is a Willie Mays or a Walter Johnson. Nor ought to they be. Whereas some voters are snug placing a checkmark subsequent to solely a handful of names — and even sending in a clean poll (ugh) — that merely doesn’t really feel proper to me. All ten of the gamers that I voted for had incredible careers. Had been they Corridor-worthy? Once more, what Trent wrote resonates with me.

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

Félix Hernández will probably be inducted into the Seattle Mariners Corridor of Fame throughout a pregame ceremony at T-Cell Park on August 12. Ryan Divish has the story at The Seattle Instances.

The Cleveland Guardians introduced they are going to be renovating Progressive Area over the subsequent couple of off-seasons. Mandy Bell has the story at MLB.com

The Detroit Tigers are planning to alter the outfield dimensions at Comerica Park. Brandon Day has the details at Bless You Boys.

The Midwest League’s West Michigan Whitecaps are set to embark on an bold, multi-year modernization of their ballpark. Particulars are provided on the crew’s web site.

Coop Daley told the story of Yutaka Fukumoto, Japan’s best base stealer, at JapanBall.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Henry Aaron, who wore the quantity on his again, hit precisely 44 house runs in 4 totally different seasons. In one among them he had a .978 OPS, 369 complete bases, and one stolen base. In one other, he he had a .977 OPS, 370 complete bases, and 31 stolen bases.

Bobby Abreu had 5 seasons with precisely 20 house runs. In one among them, he had 22 steals, 100 runs scored, and 100 RBIs. In one other, he had 22 steals, 99 runs scored, and 101 RBIs.

In 2004, Ichiro Suzuki had 262 hits, together with 24 doubles, 5 triples, and eight house runs. In 1920, George Sisler had 256 hits, together with 49 doubles, 18 triples, and 19 house runs.

Bobby Grich drew 1,087 walks and dedicated 189 errors.
Shawon Dunston drew 203 walks and dedicated 205 errors.

Steve Finley had 304 house runs and 320 stolen bases.
Reggie Sanders had 305 house runs and 304 stolen bases.

Prince Fielder had 319 house runs and 18 stolen bases.
Cecil Fielder had 319 house runs and two stolen bases.

The Detroit Tigers signed Cecil Fielder, who had spent the earlier yr with NPB’s Hanshin Tigers, to a free-agent contract on in the present day’s date in 1990. Fielder homered 258 occasions over the subsequent seven seasons, twice main the league.

The Cincinnati Reds bought Wally Pipp’s contract from the New York Yankees on in the present day’s date in 1926. New York’s main first baseman from 1915-1924, Pipp misplaced his beginning job to 22-year-old rookie Lou Gehrig in 1925.

Gamers born on in the present day’s date embody Tony Solaita, a left-handed-hitting first baseman who homered 50 occasions whereas enjoying for 5 groups over components of seven big-league seasons. A local of Nu’uuli, American Samoa, Solaita went deep 16 occasions for the Kansas Metropolis Royals in 1975, and 14 occasions for the California Angels in 1977. Per his SABR BioProject biography, he died of a gunshot wound in 1990.

Additionally born on in the present day’s date was Georges Maranda, a right-hander who appeared in 17 video games for the San Francisco Giants in 1960, and in 32 video games for the Minnesota Twins in 1962. The native of Levis, Quebec is a member of the Quebec Baseball Corridor of Fame.





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