6 Exciting Takeaways for Red Sox Fans After Spring Training Opener

The Boston Red Sox had their first Spring Training game and there were plenty of positives to take away ahead of the new season.
Mar 27, 2022; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72)
Mar 27, 2022; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Ceddanne Rafaela Showed Flashes in His Start

23-year-old Ceddanne Rafaela is Boston's third-ranked prospect and earned a big league call-up towards the back half of last season. In 28 games with the Red Sox, Rafaela hit .241 with two home runs, five RBI, and three stolen bases. He showcased his versatility by starting 11 games in center and five at shortstop.

Like Dalbec, Rafaela's versatility gives him an advantage as Craig Breslow whittles the roster down to 26.

Rafaela struck out looking on a 3-2 count off of Burnes to start the game. In his second at-bat, Rafaela hit a sharp grounder to the right of Baltimore third baseman Ramos Urias and the Gold Glove winner was able to make a good play to nab Rafaela at first. Urias also made an impressive sliding stop on another hard-hit ground ball in Rafaela's third at-bat and was able to go to second to get the force out.

On Feb. 15, manager Alex Cora was emphatic that Rafaela would have a chance to earn the Opening Day center field job, despite a deep outfield group in Boston that includes two-time Gold Glove winner and offseason acquisition Tyler O'Neill, Jarren Duran, Wilyer Abreu and Masataka Yoshida (when he is not primarily DH'ing).

Cora stated that he would be "comfortable" starting Rafaela in center and complimented the youngster's defensive traits: "he moves well, he moves fast, he has a great arm, he has great instincts". Rafaela came up inches short of one of those spectacular defensive plays on Rutschman's first-inning home run, as the home run just cleared Rafaela's leaping attempt to haul in the fly ball at the wall.

Rafaela will need to demonstrate a more consistent offseason output to earn that Opening Day start in center that Cora mentioned, but he did put two good swings on the ball on Saturday, even if the box score won't show it.