OF Ademar Rifaela A Player to Watch in Second Half for Frederick Keys

The High-A Frederick Keys will get back to action today after a few days off for the Carolina League All-Star Break, and while most fans have heard about the big first halves for Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle, outfielder Ademar Rifaela is a player to watch in the second half.

Photo: Patrick Cavey

Rifaela, 22, originally out of Curacao, has been one of the most under-the-radar players I have seen this season.

The outfielder has quietly put together quite a first half for the Keys and has done so with little realizing, outside of the Carolina League of course.

Rifaela has played in 59 games for Frederick this season and has hit .295 with 12 home runs, 12 doubles, 35 RBI and has scored 31 runs. In addition, he also owns a .341 OBP and a .864 OPS.

The biggest reasons, at least in my mind, that Rifaela's impressive first half has gone unnoticed is because of the big first halves from Mountcastle and Hays, who are two of the O's top prospects, and the fact that there was not a lot of expectations for Rifaela heading into the year.

Prior to this season, Rifaela had never hit higher than .255 in his previous four seasons and had played just five games above the Low-A level in his career.

Some likely thought he was just serving as an extra outfielder, but Rifaela has opened some eyes.

To me, this is not just a hot couple of months for Rifaela. He's getting consistent playing time and at the age of 22, maybe he is finally fully grown and has matured as a hitter.

He is going to be a player to watch for a few reasons. First, to see if he can continue his impressive first half and carry it into the second half of the season. Second, to see if he will be able to make adjustments at the plate with most pitchers having now faced him in the Carolina League. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that Hays was recently promoted to AA, thus Rifaela becomes ever more important in the lineup, both for the Keys and the opposition.

Outside of his high strikeouts (64), I like Rifaela's approach at the plate and his swing looks much better than what I saw last season when he was with Delmarva. I believe Rifaela is a player to watch for the Keys in the second half.


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