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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Tommy Raffo paid his dues, missed bigs; Then turned college coach

Tommy Raffo 1990 Miami Miracle card

Looking ahead to 1992, Reds farmhand Tommy Raffo thought he might make AA Chattanooga to start the year, he told The Greenwood Commonwealth early that March.

If he did well enough there, then maybe higher.

"We all aspire to make it to the big leagues," Raffo told The Commonwealth. "But professional baseball is like a giant ladder - you pay your dues at the bottom rung. If you're good enough, you move up a step."

That season marked Raffo's third as a pro. However, he ended up not making AA that year. He played in one more season after that. He topped out at high-A.

Raffo's career began in 1990, taken by the independent high-A Miami Miracle in the eighth round of the draft out of Mississippi State University.

At Mississippi State, Raffo drew comparisons with previous first basemen there, according to The Omaha World-Herald.

"He is probably as good a first baseman as we have had here with the exception of, maybe, a Will Clark," Mississippi State Coach Ron Polk told The World-Herald.

In the pros, he started with Miami. He saw 67 games and hit .258. 

He then moved to the Reds organization for 1991. He played that year at single-A Charleston. He hit .277 over 133 games. 

For 1992, he played at single-A Cedar Rapids. He hit .302 over 76 games. He also lost time due to a broken hand suffered in an in-game collision. He returned on a 14 for 21 run, The Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote.

"I'm just trying to do good things at the plate," Raffo told The Gazette. "I've had a lot of time to watch our guys hit and we have some good hitters. When you watch guys hit well it reinforces good habits."

Raffo returned to independent ball for 1993 at St. Paul. He saw 48 games and hit .321 to end his career.

Raffo then soon returned to college as a recruiting coordinator and coach. He served 15 seasons as recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Mississippi State. He then moved to Arkansas State as head coach in 2009. He continues in that role in 2023.

Tommy Raffo 1990 Miami Miracle card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,261
Made the Majors:1,386-32.5%
Never Made Majors:2,875-67.5%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:563
10+ Seasons in the Minors:347

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