Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter has unsurprisingly been named the Eastern League’s Pitcher of the Month for the month of April.
In four starts for Double-A Portland, Walter posted a miniscule 1.17 ERA and 1.20 FIP to go along with 29 strikeouts to zero walks over 23 innings of work. The left-hander did not walk any of the 85 batters he faced last month, though he did plunk two of them.
Among qualified Eastern League pitchers, Walter ranks second in ERA, ninth in strikeouts, 11th in strikeouts per nine innings (11.35), first in walks per nine innings and walk rate, seventh in strikeout rate (34.1%), sixth in batting average against (.169), first in WHIP (0.61), first in FIP, third in xFIP (2.45), and eighth in swinging strike rate (16.6%), per FanGraphs.
Walter, 25, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware. The New Castle native burst onto the scene in 2021 after producing a 2.92 ERA in 25 appearances (14 starts) and 89 1/3 innings between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.
Coming into the 2022 campaign ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Walter was looking forward to the challenges that the jump from High-A to Double-A Portland would present.
“Obviously, Double-A is a big jump up from High-A. It’s one of the biggest jumps you’re going to make in professional baseball,” he told The Portland Press Herald’s Travis Lazarczyk last month. “The hitters are just smarter. They’re older. They’re not going to chase as much stuff outside the zone as younger guys in the lower levels. They’ll do more damage when you make mistakes in the middle. Everybody says Double-A is the separator. I’m kind of excited to see how I match up, how I’m going to attack these hitters.”
Given the results thus far, Walter has clearly held his own and then some with the Sea Dogs to this point in the year. The 6-foot-2, 200 pound southpaw has been able to dominate opposing hitters thanks in part to his three-quarter delivery and three-pitch arsenal that is made up of a 92-94 mph sinking fastball that reaches 95 mph, an 82-85 mph changeup, and an 80-83 mph slider.
Walter, who turns 26 in September, was in line to make his fifth start of the season and first start of May for the Sea Dogs against the Reading Fightin Phils at Hadlock Field on Wednesday night. That game his since been postponed due to inclement weather, however, and will be made up as part of a single-admission, seven-inning doubleheader on Thursday.
For what it is worth, Walter can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. With that, it certainly seems as though the lefty is pitching his way onto the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.
(Picture of Brandon Walter: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)