Brian Van Belle was one of the top college seniors who did not hear his name called in the pandemic-shortened 2020 amateur draft, so it did not take long for the University of Miami right-hander to land with a Major League Baseball team.
Just five days after the conclusion of the 2020 draft, Van Belle officially signed with the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent. The Pembroke Pines, Fla. native received a modest $20,000 signing bonus that summer and proceeded to impress the club at fall instructors in Fort Myers.
Following his first minor-league spring training, Van Belle broke camp and spent the entirety of the 2021 season with High-A Greenville. In 18 starts for the Drive, the 25-year-old posted a 4.10 ERA and 4.23 FIP to go along with 82 strikeouts to just 13 walks over 79 innings pitched. It should be mentioned that he missed three weeks of action while on the injured list from August 19 through September 9.
On paper, a 4.10 ERA might not exactly jump off the page. In Van Belle’s case, however, there was a stretch over the summer when the righty was arguably one of the best starting pitchers in the lower-minors.
In four outings last July, Van Belle went 3-0 while not allowing a single run. He struck out 24 of the 84 batters he faced and walked just four of them across 22 innings of work en route to being named the High-A East Pitcher of the Month and the Red Sox’ Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month.
All told, Van Belle was one of 32 hurlers in the High-A East who accrued at least 70 innings on the mound last year. Among that group, the former Hurricane ranked 10th in ERA, 12th in FIP, second in walks per nine innings (1.48), and second in walk rate (3.9%), per FanGraphs.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Van Belle has a repeatable delivery and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 93 mph, an 82-85 mph changeup, and a 77-80 mph curveball that is considered to be a “work in progress,” according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report. As indicated by his low walk rate, his command is what makes him stick out.
Van Belle, who turns 26 in September, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. That said, he is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season in Double-A Portland’s starting rotation and should get more exposure there as he looks to build off a solid debut campaign.
(Picture of Brian Van Belle via the Greenville Drive’s Twitter)