Following his senior year of high school in 1998, Rabelo was drafted in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox. He did not sign, however, instead choosing to play collegiate baseball for the University of Tampa Spartans. Following his junior season of college, the Detroit Tigers signed Rabelo after selecting him in the 4th round of the 2001 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Rabelo began his career with the Single-A Oneonta Tigers of the New York–Penn League, where he was named an all star at catcher. He later played for the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps in 2002 and 2003; the Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers in 2004; the Double-A Erie SeaWolves in 2004, 2005, and 2006; and the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens to finish out the 2006 season. During his time in the minors, Rabelo developed a reputation as a personal catcher for pitcher Joel Zumaya. Rabelo was added to the Tigers 40-man roster in September 2006, and made his debut the same month.
Rabelo began the 2007 season third on the Tigers catching depth chart behind established veterans Iván Rodríguez and backup Vance Wilson. During spring training, Wilson experienced elbow pain, and later learned he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery. As a result, Rabelo began the season on the 25-man active roster, and generally played well, maintaining a batting average that surpassed his minor league average of .263. He hit his first major league home run on September 30, 2007, the last game of the season off Mike MacDougal of the Chicago White Sox.
On December 5, 2007, the Tigers traded Rabelo, Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz and Burke Badenhop to the Florida Marlins for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. In November 2009, Rabelo was granted free agency by the Florida Marlins.
On January 14, 2010, Rabelo signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers with an invite to spring training. He was optioned to the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League, where he was the second string catcher behind Robinzon Diaz.