Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello’s Double-A debut on Saturday night did not disappoint.
After getting promoted from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland this past Tuesday, Bello made his first start of the year for the Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field, facing off against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (the Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays).
Over four-plus innings of work, the young right-hander allowed just one earned run on five hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.
While he did not have the benefit of a clean inning, Bello did do an effective job of maneuvering his way around traffic on the base paths, as he stranded five runners on base and also faced the minimum in the fourth thanks to inducing a 6-4-3 double play.
Both walks issued by Bello came against the first two — and subsequently final two — batters he faced in the top half of the fifth, at which point his outing came to a close.
One of those he walked would come into score on a sacrifice fly off Sea Dogs reliever Joan Martinez later in the inning, which is how he was charged with that lone run.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (46 strikes), the righty was sitting between 96-97 mph with his fastball according to those who were in attendance for his start in Portland.
Bello, who turned 22 last month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking ninth among pitchers in the organization.
The 6-foot-1, 170 pound hurler began his 2021 season in Greenville, where he posted a a 2.27 ERA and 2.60 xFIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to just seven walks over six starts and 31 2/3 innings pitched with the Drive.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Bello — who was a standout at fall instructs last year — throws from a mid-three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a fastball, a changeup, and a slider.
On the surface, the fact that the Dominican native only went four-plus innings into his first start at a new level may seem underwhelming, but as noted by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield, “the jump from High-A to Double-A is often regarded as the hardest in the minor leagues.”
With that thought in mind, that Bello did what he did on Saturday should be considered a positive more than anything else.
As he prepares for his next outing with the Sea Dogs, it’s important to remember how pivotal the 2021 campaign is for Bello and those in and outside of the Red Sox organization who are and will be evaluating him this summer.
That being the case because the former international signee can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this winter if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline.
Something to certainly keep in mind there.
(Picture of Brayan Bello: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)