Rafaela hits for first cycle in Drive history, naturally
Natural cycles are the rarest type of cycle. They’re also the most dramatic, allowing the player to punctuate his achievement with a roundtripper and then celebrate with a jog. Ceddanne Rafaela lived that reality Tuesday, hitting for a natural cycle in High-A Greenville’s 11-6 win over Hickory. The No. 27
Natural cycles are the rarest type of cycle. They’re also the most dramatic, allowing the player to punctuate his achievement with a roundtripper and then celebrate with a jog.
Rafaela began his milestone night at Flour Field at the West End by looping a single to center field in the first inning. He legged out a double in the third, clanged an RBI triple off the center-field wall in the seventh and pulled a solo homer to left in the eighth. In the process, Rafaela scored three runs and drove in two.
Ceddane Rafaela became the first player in Drive franchise history to hit for the cycle tonight! He singled in the 1st, doubled in the 3rd, tripled in the 7th & homered in the 8th! @RedSox @MiLB pic.twitter.com/jtoAyE0T9b— Greenville Drive (@GreenvilleDrive) May 18, 2022
It was the latest impressive performance during a stellar start to the year for the reigning Hitter of the Month in the South Atlantic League. Originally signed out of Curacao in 2017, Rafaela successfully navigated Low-A Salem in 2021. He was promoted to Greenville to start the season and has taken off since.
The 21-year-old is hitting .312 with eight homers, 26 RBIs, 10 steals and a .920 OPS in 32 games. He leads the circuit in hits (44), runs (28) and total bases (80). He also ranks second in extra-base hits (19), fourth in doubles (10) and RBIs, eighth in slugging (.567) and ninth in OPS (.920), while seeing time defensively at center field, shortstop and second base.
Rafaela's spent most of his time in center this season, but he’s appeared at six different positions over parts of four seasons as a pro, making him one of the more versatile defenders anywhere in the Minor Leagues. The bat, too, clearly plays.
At the big league level, the Red Sox have had 23 cycles in their history, most recently by Brock Holt in the 2018 American League Divisional Series. Holt and Bobby Doerr are the only two players in franchise history to have accomplished the feat twice.
Joe Trezza is an contributor for MiLB.com.