Red Sox promote top pitching prospect Brayan Bello to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have promoted top pitching prospect Brayan Bello to Triple-A Worcester, as confirmed by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. Per his Instagram story, Bello spent part of his Monday at Polar Park and will wear the No. 64 with the WooSox.

According to Boston Strong on Twitter, who first took note of Bello’s social media activity, Bello will make his Triple-A debut against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Wednesday night.

Bello, who turns 23 on Tuesday, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 1 pitching prospect (fourth overall) in Boston’s farm system and the 86th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

In six starts for Double-A Portland this season, the hard-throwing right-hander has posted a 1.60 ERA and 3.20 FIP to go along with 42 strikeouts to 12 walks over 33 2/3 innings of work. He tossed a seven-inning no-hitter against the Reading Fightin Phils at Hadlock Field earlier this month.

Among qualified Eastern League pitchers, Bello ranks seventh in strikeout rate (32.6%), second in swinging strike rate (19.3%) first in batting average against (.137), second in WHIP (0.83), second in ERA, eighth in FIP, and fifth in xFIP (2.68), per FanGraphs.

The reigning Red Sox Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year, Bello was originally signed by Boston for a modest $28,000 coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2017. It has been quite the ascent for the Samana native since then.

Listed at a lanky 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Bello operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball that tops out at 99-100 mph, an 85-89 mph changeup, and an 84-88 mph slider.

Since he is already on the Boston’s 40-man roster, Bello could very well make his big-league debut later this season. For the time being, though, the 22-year-old will join a talented WooSox rotation that consists of other high-caliber prospects like Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski, and Kutter Crawford.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Latest MLB Pipeline mock draft has Red Sox taking University of Tennessee outfielder Jordan Beck with top pick

In his latest 2022 mock draft for MLB.com, Jim Callis has the Red Sox taking University of Tennessee outfielder Jordan Beck with their top pick at No. 24 overall.

Boston originally selected Beck in the 14th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Hazel Green High School. The Alabama native, however, elected to honor his commitment to Tennessee rather than go pro at that time.

Fast forward three years, and Beck is now in the midst of his junior season with the top-ranked, 43-6 Volunteers. The right-handed hitter has appeared in all 49 of those games and has batted .314/.384/.592 with 12 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 45 RBIs, 51 runs scored, six stolen bases, 21 walks, and 43 strikeouts across 216 trips to the plate coming into play on Thursday.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Beck has seen the majority of his playing time this season come in right field, though he also has past experience in center and in left. Last summer, for instance, he made seven appearances in center field for the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Beck, who turned 21 last month, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 21st-ranked draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class. Baseball America, on the other hand, has Beck coming in as their No. 17 prospect.

Given his size, position, and background, Beck has drawn comparisons to former Red Sox outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who was also drafted out of an SEC school in Mississippi State University.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Beck “uses his bat speed, strength and the leverage in his 6-foot-3 frame to create well above-average raw power to all fields.” And although he can get too aggressive at the plate, he has been able to develop more discipline and make adjustments against breaking balls and changeups this year.

On the other side of things, MLB Pipeline notes that “Beck runs very well for his size, displaying solid speed and the ability to steal an occasional base. His plus arm strength adds to his profile in right field, where he’s a better-than-average defender.”

Baseball America describes Beck as “a powerful athlete” who possesses plus raw power and quality arm strength. He has the capabilities to play center field although he has not been asked to do so too much throughout his collegiate career because of teammate Drew Gilbert.

At this point, it is not yet known how much Beck will be looking to sign for when he is drafted during the All-Star break in July. That being said, we already know the assigned slot value for the 24th overall pick will come in at roughly $2.975 million.

(Picture of Jordan Beck: Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Red Sox shortstop prospect Matthew Lugo is thriving with High-A Greenville

Before the minor-league season began, The Athletic’s Keith Law identified Matthew Lugo as a potential sleeper prospect within the Red Sox farm system. A little more than five weeks into the 2022 campaign, Lugo has shown why he is worthy of more recognition.

In High-A Greenville’s 6-3 loss to the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field on Tuesday, one day after celebrating his 21st birthday, Lugo went 1-for-4 with his lone hit being an eighth-inning two-run home run.

Through 24 games with the Drives this season, the right-handed hitting shortstop has batted a stout .333/.385/.576 with eight doubles, three triples, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 16 runs scored, five stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 109 plate appearances.

Among qualified South Atlantic League hitters, Lugo ranks eighth in strikeout percentage (15.6%), fifth in batting average, 20th in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, eighth in OPS (.961), 14th in isolated power (.242), 20th in speed score (7.6), and seventh in wRC+ (155), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 185 pounder has seen all his playing time on the field this year come at shortstop. He has logged 203 1/3 innings at the position thus far and has committed six errors while turning five double plays.

The nephew of former big-leaguer Carlos Beltran, Lugo was originally selected by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. The Barceloneta native signed with the club for $1.1 million and made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League.

As things stand now, Lugo is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system. And, as noted in the above tweet, it certainly seems as though the 21-year-old will earn a promotion to Double-A Portland sooner rather than later.

(Picture of Matthew Lugo: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox top prospect Marcelo Mayer returns to Low-A Salem’s lineup

Top Red Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer returned to Low-A Salem’s lineup for the first time since April 23 on Tuesday morning.

Batting third and serving as designated hitter, Mayer went 1-for-4 with a single, two strikeouts, and a stolen base in Salem’s 1-0 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium.

Mayer’s 3 1/2 week absence initially came as a result of what the Red Sox described as workload management. During that time, however, the 19-year-old shortstop began experiencing minor soreness in his right wrist that further delayed his return to action.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Sox preferred to wait things out with Mayer and have him back at full strength as opposed to having him “running uphill for the rest of 2022.”

Including Tuesday’s performance, Mayer is now batting .328/.388/.475 with six doubles, one home run, 10 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, six walks, and 19 strikeouts through 14 games (67 plate appearances) this season. Tuesday marked just the second time this year the left-handed hitter has been used as Salem’s DH.

The Red Sox originally selected Mayer with the fourth overall pick in last year’s amateur draft, so this is the Southern California native’s first full professional season. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 14th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Brayan Bello enters Baseball America’s top 100 prospects rankings

Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello has entered Baseball America’s latest top 100 prospect rankings. The right-hander now comes in as the 97th-ranked prospect in all of baseball, joining the likes of fellow Red Sox minor-leaguers Marcelo Mayer (No. 14), Triston Casas (No. 18), Nick Yorke (No. 33), and Jarren Duran (No. 84).

Previously, Bello was identified by Baseball America as a prospect who fell just outside the publication’s top 100 list. That came back in January, when Bello was a few months removed from a 2021 season in which he was named the Sox’ Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year and was subsequently added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November.

Bello, who turns 23 later this month, returned to Double-A Portland for the start of the 2022 campaign and has thus far posted a 2.61 ERA and 2.34 xFIP with 32 strikeouts to eight walks over four starts spanning 20 2/3 innings of work.

Among qualified Eastern League pitchers this season, the 22-year-old ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings (13.94), fourth in strikeout rate (38.6%), ninth in batting average against (.173), 11th in WHIP (1.02), 12th in ERA, second in xFIP, and first in swinging strike rate (23.6%), per FanGraphs.

Since earning a promotion from High-A Greenville to Portland last June, Bello has pitched to the tune of a 4.16 ERA and 3.19 FIP to go along with 119 strikeouts and 32 walks across 19 starts (84 1/3 innings pitched) with the Sea Dogs.

Originally signed by the Red Sox for just $28,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2017, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks first among pitchers in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Bello operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball that tops out at 99-100 mph, an 85-89 mph changeup, and an 84-88 mph slider.

Considering the amount of success he is enjoying and the amount of attention he is receiving while pitching at the Double-A level, it seems likely that Bello could be on his way to Triple-A Worcester at some point before the 2022 season ends.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Baseball America’s latest mock draft has Red Sox selecting prep outfielder Justin Crawford with top pick

In his latest 2022 mock draft for Baseball America, Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox selecting Bishop Gorman High School outfielder Justin Crawford with their top pick at No. 24 overall.

Crawford, Collazo writes is “a premium position player with professional bloodlines who has taken a step forward with his strength after the offseason. He’s an elite runner who should provide plenty of defensive value and he’s got a nice swing with power potential.”

The son of former Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford, Justin is regarded by Baseball America as the 29th-ranked draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class. He is set to graduate from the baseball powerhouse in Las Vegas that is Bishop Gorman High School, which has produced the likes of Joey Gallo as well as 2020 first-rounder Austin Wells.

Crawford, who turned 18 in January, is listed at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds and has a projectable frame. In 30 games played for Bishop Gorman this spring, the left-handed hitter has batted .451/.529/.804 with 11 doubles, five triples, five home runs, 30 RBIs, 44 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 15 walks, and five strikeouts over 121 plate appearances.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Crawford is “a great runner now with long and fluid strides and has posted exceptional run times in the 60-yard dash. He’s at least a 70-grade runner and should be able to cover massive swaths of ground in center field.”

MLB Pipeline, which has Crawford as their No. 37 draft prospect, notes that the left-handed hitting outfielder “has very good bat-to-ball skills” and is willing to make adjustments. He also “has the chance to be a plus defender in center field when all is said and done.”

A native of Nevada himself, Crawford is currently committed to play college baseball for the esteemed Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. It may take quite the signing bonus to sway him away from his commitment even if he is taken in the first round of this summer’s draft, which begins on July 17.

In prior mock drafts, the Red Sox have been linked to high school infielders, a college catcher, a college outfielder, and a college pitcher. The last time Boston used a first-round pick on a natural prep outfielder was 2009, when they took Rey Fuentes out of Fernando Callejo High School in Puerto Rico.

(Picture of Justin Crawford via his Instagram)

Red Sox pitching prospect Chris Murphy finishes month of April with 2.25 ERA in 4 starts for Double-A Portland

Red Sox pitching prospect Chris Murphy wrapped up his month of April with yet another impressive performance for Double-A Portland on Tuesday night.

Working against the Somerset Patriots (Yankees affiliate) at TD Bank Ballpark, Murphy scattered just two hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work. The left-hander retired each of the final nine batters he faced as 50 of the 81 pitches he threw went for strikes.

Through his first four starts of the season with the Sea Dogs, Murphy has posted a 2.25 ERA and 3.12 FIP with 24 strikeouts to seven walks across 20 innings pitched.

Among qualified pitchers in the Eastern League, Murphy ranks 15th in strikeout rate (30.8%), 24th in walk rate (9.0%), seventh in batting average against (.171), 12th in WHIP (0.95), 13th in ERA, and 14th in FIP, per FanGraphs.

Murphy, 23, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally took the California-born southpaw in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego.

Since being promoted from High-A Greenville to Portland last July, Murphy owns a 4.25 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 71:20 over 11 appearances (10 starts) spanning 53 total innings of work at the Double-A level.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the 6-foot-1, 175 pound hurler operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that can reach 96-97 mph, an above-average changeup, a curveball, and a changeup. He is also very open when it comes to pitch design and pitch tunneling.

Murphy, who turns 24 in June, is set to become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this December. With that, it would not be surprising if the Red Sox elect to promote the lefty to Triple-A Worcester at some point this season to further evaluate and determine if he is worthy of a spot on the club’s 40-man roster come late November.

(Picture of Chris Murphy: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox power-hitting prospect Alex Binelas is mashing at High-A Greenville

If it weren’t for Orioles prospect Cesar Prieto, Alex Binelas likely would have become the second member of the Greenville Drive to earn South Atlantic League Player of the Week honors in as many weeks.

In the Drive’s last series against the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox affiliate) at Fluor Field, Binelas went 6-for-17 (.353) with one double, three home runs, five RBIs, five runs scored, five walks, and eight strikeouts while appearing in five of a possible six games.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, the left-handed hitting infielder is slashing a stout .306/.435/.714 with two doubles, six homers, 14 runs driven, 14 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 19 strikeouts across 13 games spanning 62 trips to the plate.

Nearly three weeks into the minor-league season, Binelas has been among the top hitters in the South Atlantic League thus far. The 21-year-old currently ranks 16th in walk percentage (17.7%), 19th in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS (1.150), first in isolated power (.408), and third in wRC+ (195), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Binelas has seen an almost equal amount of playing time at first base and third base at the High-A level. The 6-foot-3, 225 pounder has logged 54 innings at the hot corner, 45 innings at first, and has yet to commit an error.

Binelas, who turns 22 next month, is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect and by MLB Pipeline as the No. 22 prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system. He is undoubtedly one of the top power hitters in the organization.

This is Binelas’ first full season in pro ball. The Oak Creek, Wis. native was originally selected by his hometown Brewers in the third round of last year’s draft out of the University of Louisville but was traded to the Red Sox with Jackie Bradley Jr. and fellow prospect David Hamilton for Hunter Renfroe in December.

From the outside, one might think transitioning to a new organization may be a tough task for a player still getting his feet wet as a professional. For Binelas, though, going from the Brewers to the Sox over the winter hardly seems to be affecting him.

With that, a mid-to-late-season promotion to Double-A Portland certainly seems within reach for Binelas if he can maintain this kind of production at the plate in Greenville.

(GIF of Alex Binelas via the Greenville Drive)

Latest Baseball America mock draft has Red Sox selecting University of Florida ace Hunter Barco with top pick

In the first installment of their 2022 MLB Staff Draft, Baseball America has the Red Sox selecting University of Florida ace left-hander Hunter Barco with its first-round pick at No. 24 overall.

Baseball America writer Tom Lipari was the one who made the selection, and he noted that Barco is a “solid, pitchability lefty with a history of success in the SEC” who would be a “safe pick and quick mover through any system.”

Barco, 21, was originally selected by the Mets in the 24th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of The Bolles School — the same high school New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones attended.

The Jacksonville native did not sign with New York, however, and instead opted to honor his commitment to Florida. After his freshman season was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Barco earned All-SEC Newcomer honors in 2021.

Through nine starts with the Gators this season, Barco has posted a 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and .187 batting average against to go along with 69 strikeouts to 11 walks over 50 1/3 innings of work. He was forced to leave his last outing against Vanderbilt on April 15 after just two innings due to illness and is now questionable for his next start against Tennessee on Friday.

Barco, who does not turn 22 until December, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class, ranking 14th among collegiate players and seventh among pitchers. MLB Pipeline, meanwhile, has Barco coming in at No. 53, which ranks 20th among hurlers who could be drafted in July.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Barco operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a low-90s fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a sweeping slider in the low-80s that can give off the appearance of a curveball, and a changeup that typically clocks in at the low-80s.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, “Barco throws from a low slot that adds deception and helps his stuff play up.” MLB Pipeline, on the other hand, notes that Barco “has done an excellent job of consistently finding the strike zone in college, though there’s improvement that can be made in terms of command within the zone with that funky delivery tough to repeat at times.”

While you have to go back to 2017 to find the last time the Red Sox used a first-round pick on a pitcher (Tanner Houck), the club certainly has not shied away from taking players out of Gainesville in recent years. Jud Fabian (who did not sign), Nathan Hickey, and Wil Dalton stick out there.

Barco could become the latest former Gator to join Boston’s organizational ranks, though plenty could — and likely will — change between now and Day 1 of the 2022 draft in Los Angeles on July 17.

(Picture of Hunter Barco: AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Red Sox pitching prospect Chih-Jung Liu strikes out 9 over 5 scoreless innings for High-A Greenville

Red Sox pitching prospect Chih-Jung Liu dazzled in his second start of the season for High-A Greenville on Tuesday night.

Matched up against the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox affiliate), Liu scattered just two hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work at Fluor Field. The Drive went on to defeat the Dash, 5-4, courtesy of a walk-off home run from Stephen Scott.

Liu took a perfect game into the fourth inning before yielding a leadoff walk to Cuban sensation Oscar Colas that was followed by a one-out single off the bat of Bryan Ramos. The right-hander ultimately retired 14 of the 18 batters he faced while finishing with a final pitch count of 75.

Of those 75 pitches, 55 went for strikes. According to Chris Clegg of Fantrax, Liu sat at 94-95 mph with his fastball and topped out at 97 mph with the pitch while also mixing in a slider, curveball, and changeup. The majority of his swings-and-misses came on either the fastball or slider, per Clegg.

Through his first two starts of the year for the Drive, Liu has posted an ERA of 3.00, a WHIP of 1.00, and batting average against of .156 across nine total innings pitched. The 23-year-old has struck out 12 of the first 36 batters (33%) he has faced in 2022 and has walked four of them.

Liu, who turned 23 earlier this month, came into the 2022 campaign regarded by Baseball America as the No. 32 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 13th among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally signed the Taiwanese-born hurler as an international free agent coming out of Tainan City in October 2019.

With the 2020 minor-league season being wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu did not make his organizational debut until last July and only has 15 career starts as a professional under his belt.

So, even though he has been with the Red Sox for nearly two years, there is still a lot of intrigue when it comes to what Liu’s development as a pitcher could look like. He is currently listed at 6-foot and 182 pounds, so there could be room for additional growth physically. Whether he will pan out as a starter or reliever in the long-term has yet to be determined.

(GIF of Chih-Jung Liu via the Greenville Drive)