Rafael Morel – Picture by Stephanie Lynn

One of the pleasant surprises of the first half was the play of Rafael Morel. People probably see the name and think that he’s going to be like his brother. Well he isn’t. He’s his own type of player who is actually starting to come into his own this year and it’s been a lot of fun to watch.

Basic Info

Height – 6-foot
Weight – 170 at signing
Bats – Right
Throws – Right
Age – 21
From – Santiago in the DR
Signed as an IFA on August 6, 2018

It can’t be easy being the little brother of Christopher Morel. People probably put a lot of expectations on Rafael early in his career. For the past four years, his brother has been an electric player in the Cubs organization. But Rafael is his own guy and he’s developing at his own pace, and people need to let him.

As evidenced this year, Rafael has shown a mix of power and speed. He’s also mostly moved out of the infield into the outfield at Myrtle Beach. He played some third and short early in the year, but has been in the grass consistently since mid-May. He’s athletic enough to make plays out there. But he’s also shown the ability to be a consistent force in the lineup.

The 21-year-old debuted in the Dominican Summer League back in 2019. He showed the ability to hit for average at the age of 17 as he hit .283 that summer in 68 games. He also hit four home runs and drove in 32. Because of the pandemic, he did not play in 2020.

When baseball resumed in 2021, then 19-year-old was stationed in the Arizona Complex League. It was a tough year as he hit .203 with a 297 on base percentage. He just never seemed to get it going in 39 games.

Some of my friends questioned whether he was going to evolve and develop into a full-fledged guy who the Cubs could depend on. I didn’t really think about it because he was 19 coming off of a missed year and coming stateside is not an easy thing to do for most young Latin players.

In 2022, Morel went back to Arizona and played in 39 games again, but with much different results. This time he hit .278 with a .359 on base percentage. Both of those numbers are decent and on the verge of being good. But what I liked was that he improved and adapted from the year before.

But this year, he showing all the possibilities of a player who could probably breakout in a big way in 2024. We’re starting to see the power. We’re starting to see better decisions on the base paths. We’re starting to see electric plays. All these little things are flashbulb moments they give you a glimpse into what a prospect can do in certain situations.

This year, by month, he’s been fairly consistent or within 30 points on his batting average. He’s .288, .259, and .283. I will take that, especially considering the fact that Myrtle Beach is not known as a place where hitters tend to thrive. 

Morel should be a guy who spends all of 2023 building a good foundation with Buddy Bailey. I don’t see him coming to South Bend this summer mainly because there’s no need. Let him have success in Myrtle Beach, let him work with Buddy Bailey as that would be best for his development.

2024 should be very interesting year for Rafael if he can get accustomed to the pitching in the Midwest League.