Single-A Frederick outfielder Ademar Rifaela has been named the Most Valuable Player in the Carolina League. Rifaela leads the league with 24 homers and ranks among the league leaders in several other categories.
The 22-year-old from Willemstad, Curacao, is batting .280/.350/.499 with 21 doubles, a triple, 24 homers, 78 RBIs and an OPS of .849.
He becomes just the second player in Frederick’s 29-year history to win this award. Brandon Waring was the first in 2009.
Rifaela ranks first in the Carolina League in total bases, second in RBIs and slugging, and seventh in batting average. He has played corner outfield for the Keys.
Earlier this year, Orioles director of player development Brian Graham talked about Rifaela, who was signed out of Curacao in March 2013 by Fred Ferreira and Ernst Meyer.
“He’s just 22 and has a beautiful swing and the ball jumps off his bat,” Graham said. “He’s having a really good year. He’s shown good bat speed and understands the strike zone. He’s shown much better patience this year. He’s a left-handed hitter that has always had a pure swing. His pitch recognition has gotten better.
“Plus he’s maturing as a person and as a player, and if you had to point to one thing, that maturity has really helped him perform so well this year. Young players develop at different times. It has taken some time and it’s part of the process. Development takes time and a lot of effort and you never know when players will show up. You just keep working and good players will show up.”
Shortstop Ryan Mountcastle joined Rifaela on the Carolina League’s postseason All-Star team. In 85 games with the Keys before being promoted to Double-A Bowie, Mountcastle hit .314/.343/.542 with 35 doubles, 15 homers, 47 RBIs, 63 runs scored and eight stolen bases.
Mountcastle is likely to win the Carolina League batting title. He hasn’t been in league since mid July when he was promoted, but he will finish the year with enough plate apperances to win the batting title.
Also, right-hander Hunter Harvey’s last start will be Monday at Single-A Delmarva. But the Orioles have not completely ruled out him pitching in the minor league playoffs.
Photo by Patrick Cavey