Portland’s Ceddanne Rafaela celebrates with Sea Dogs Manager Chad Epperson after hitting a home run on May 25 against New Hampshire at Hadlock Field, the start of a 14-game hit streak. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Ceddanne Rafaela’s name is not on his locker in the Portland Sea Dogs’ clubhouse. Where his first name should be is the nickname “C Note.” The nameplate is the work of Mike Coziahr, the team’s equipment manager and director of clubhouse services. After a recent game, Rafaela pointed to it and laughed.

“He put that last year when they called me up (to Portland). He put the C first. I asked what’s that and he said, ‘Big money,'” Rafaela said.

An exceptional defender whether he’s playing center field or shortstop and a speedy baserunner on pace to shatter his career record in stolen bases, 22-year old Rafaela isn’t big money yet, but he’s getting there.

Rated the No. 3 prospect in the Red Sox system by MLB.com and soxprospects.com, Rafaela, a native of Curacao who speaks four languages – English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento – has played his best baseball of the season over the last few weeks.

Rafaela had a 14-game hit streak snapped on Saturday when he struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of a 5-2 loss to Akron at Hadlock Field. Rafaela was hitting .255  with one home run when the hit streak began with a two-run home run against New Hampshire on May 25. He’s batting .285, with five homers, 36 runs, 34 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 51 games this season.

After getting called up to Portland from High-A Greenville on June 6 last season, Rafaela is batting .281 with 17 home runs, 84 RBI, 81 runs and 41 stolen bases in 122 career games at the Double-A level. He has produced at the plate and certainly in the field.


That raises the question, how much longer will Rafaela be in Portland?

“It’s not in my hands. I need to just keep playing my game,” Rafaela said last week. “It’s going to come. I’m not thinking I have to go up or something. Just do what I have to do here, and when they feel I’m ready, that’s when I’m ready.”

Brian Abraham, Boston’s director of player development, said the next step in Rafaela’s development, the step that will earn him a promotion to Triple-A Worcester, is consistency. Abraham said he knows Rafaela was disappointed when he wasn’t promoted to Worcester out of spring training. He added that disappointment did not derail Rafaela from doing the work he knows he needs to do to improve.

Ceddanne Rafaela of the Portland Sea Dogs leads the Eastern League with 27 stolen bases this season – one short of his career high during a 2022 season in which he played at the High Class A and Double-A levels. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“There was a bit of a slow start, but he’s doing the work pregame. As he has an overall better approach, a better plan of attack, he’s seeing the results,” Abraham said.

The biggest improvement Rafaela needed to make was in pitch selection at the plate. His tendency to chase pitches out of the strike zone leads him to sometimes give away at-bats. He’s spent a lot of time in the batting cage working to break that habit.

“It’s getting results. It’s helping me. They’re telling me I’m having better AB (at bats). There are pitches I need to let go. I’m seeing more barrels this season,” Rafaela said. “Let it happen. Don’t think about results. Just stick with my routine, and go do it.”


Sea Dogs Manager Chad Epperson has seen Rafaela’s improvement on a daily basis.

“The chase rate is going down. It’s trending the right way. He’s aggressive. He’s going to be an aggressive hitter. It’s that fine line of not taking that away and making sure he is making good swings,” Epperson said.

“When he’s in a good spot, and we’ve all seen it, he makes the adjustment a lot quicker. Early on, when he would swing at the one in the dirt, he would chase the next one. Now, he lays off it and gets a better pitch to hit.”

The Red Sox liked what they saw from Rafaela last season, enough to add him to the big league 40-man roster in the offseason. They know his potential is there. Even at 5-foot-9 and 165-pounds, Rafaela generates the bat speed necessary to generate power. That home run May 25 jump-started a power surge, and Rafaela has four home runs over his last 15 games.

Ceddanne Rafaela runs out onto the field at the start of the fourth inning on Opening Night at Hadlock Field on April 6. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“There’s no doubt he was trying to do too much early (in the season). You’re starting to see the looseness in his swing. It’s not forced. People who know Raffi know when he’s loose and when he’s twitchy that’s when he’s at his best,” Epperson said. “There’s no question there’s looseness in his swing now, and it allows the barrel to get through the zone a lot quicker, which allows him to thrust himself a little bit more and see the ball more instead of trying to force stuff.”

Since Marcelo Mayer, Boston’s 2021 first round draft choice and the top prospect in the system, joined the Sea Dogs two weeks ago, Rafaela has been Portland’s leadoff hitter. In the 10 games he’s been at the top of the order since Mayer’s arrival, Rafaela’s average is .381, with two home runs, 10 runs and eight RBI. Rafaela also has five stolen bases over that stretch, giving him an Eastern League-leading 27 steals on the season, already just one short of the career high 28 he swiped last season.


Even with the arrival of Mayer at shortstop, Rafaela would like to continue seeing time at that position. Rafaela started at short last Thursday and hit a home run and scored twice in a 13-7 win over Akron. The home run, a solo shot in the sixth inning over the Maine Monster left-field wall, was a perfect example of what Rafaela is trying to do at the plate. It came off a slider over the middle of the plate, a pitch he knows he should hammer.

“It’s where I started. It’s where they saw me to sign me,” he said of playing shortstop.

Both Epperson and Abraham said Rafaela will certainly continue to see games at shortstop, along with center field, where he plays the majority of the time.

Ceddanne Rafaela plays mostly in center field, but he’ll continue to get some playing time at shortstop despite the recent call-up of shortstop Marcelo Mayer, Boston’s top-rated prospect. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“He’s such an elite defender, not only in center but at short, I don’t think we take that away from him. The plan is to get him at least once a week (at shortstop) and Mayer the rest,” Epperson said.

There’s no timetable for Rafaela to move up from Portland to Worcester. The talent is there, and the consistency is better. The Red Sox have seen the improvement they’re looking for, Abraham said. Continue being aggressive at the plate, but with pitches in the zone Rafaela can drive. Epperson agrees. If Rafaela continues focusing on improving every day, Coziahr will be removing the “C Note” from that locker and replacing it with the name of a new player.

“I don’t hone in on that stuff. Our job as a staff is to make sure he’s prepared to play today,” Epperson said. “I hope he’s thinking, I’m here today and I’m going to get better.”

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