Red Sox add 5 prospects, including Ceddanne Rafaela and Brandon Walter, to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox have selected five prospects to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft, the club announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Left-handers Chris Murphy and Brandon Walter, super-utility player Ceddanne Rafaela, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, and infielder David Hamilton were all added. In order to make room for these five on the 40-man roster, which sat at 37 players coming into Tuesday’s deadline, right-hander Jake Reed and catcher Caleb Hamilton were both designated for assignment.

Murphy, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking third among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally selected the Californian-born southpaw in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego.

In 15 appearances (13 starts) with Double-A Portland to begin the 2022 minor-league season, Murphy posted a 2.58 ERA and 3.35 FIP with 91 strikeouts to 31 walks over 76 2/3 innings of work. He was promoted to Triple-A Worcester in late June and pitched to a 5.50 ERA (5.26 FIP) with 58 strikeouts to 41 walks in 15 starts (75 1/3 innings) for the WooSox.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Murphy operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that can reach 96-97 mph, an 83-85 mph changeup, a 73-76 mph curveball, and an 80-84 mph slider.

Walter, 26, is ranked right behind Murphy as Baseball America’s No. 9 Red Sox prospect. The University of Delaware product was taken by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 draft and burst onto the scene last year. He began the 2022 campaign in Portland and produced a 2.88 ERA (2.73 FIP) with 68 strikeouts to just three walks in his first nine starts (50 innings) with the Sea Dogs.

That level of performance netted Walter a promotion to Worcester in late May. But the 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefty made just two starts for the WooSox before a bulging cervical disk prematurely ended his season in early June. Walter works with a 90-93 mph heater that tops out at 95 mph, an 80-83 mph changeup, and an 80-83 mph slider. If healthy, he could provide the Red Sox with starting rotation depth next season.

Rafaela is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 78 prospect in all of baseball. The Red Sox originally signed the versatile 22-year-old for just $10,000 as an international free agent in July 2017. He has since emerged as one of the organization’s brightest prospects and was alone in representing the Sox at this year’s All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles.

After earning Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time in 2021, Rafaela could have been added to Boston’s 40-man roster but was instead left off. The major-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft was then cancelled as a result of the ongoing lockout, meaning other teams would not have the opportunity to pry Rafaela away from the Red Sox.

Rafaela broke minor-league camp with High-A Greenville this spring. The right-handed hitter batted .330/.368/.594 with 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 36 RBIs, 37 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 51 strikeouts in 45 games (209 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Upon making the jump from High-A to Double-A in early June, Rafaela proceeded to slash .278/.324/.500 with 15 doubles, six triples, 12 homers, 50 runs driven in, 45 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 16 walks, and 62 strikeouts over 71 games (313 plate appearances). Though his production at the plate dipped with the Sea Dogs, Rafaela still led all Red Sox minor-leaguers with 63 extra-base hits and was the only member of the organization to put together a 20-20 season.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela saw the majority of his playing time in Portland come in center field. The 5-foot-8, 152-pounder logged 498 2/3 innings and recorded three outfield assists in center while also logging 103 innings at shortstop.

“I truly believe this: You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster said of Rafaela, who was named the organization’s Defensive Player of the Year for a second time back in September. “He’s not there yet as an infielder, but talent-wise and with some more reps and some more polish, he has Gold Glove potential as a shortstop as well. It’s wild the talent that this kid has.”

Abreu, 23, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Astros in the August trade that sent Christian Vazquez to Houston. The other prospect from that deal (Enmanuel Valdez) was added to the 40-man roster last Thursday so that he would not become a minor-league free agent.

As for Abreu, Baseball America currently ranks the native Venezuelan as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The left-handed hitting outfielder closed out the 2022 season by batting .242/.399/.375 with five doubles, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 25 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 36 walks, and 45 strikeouts across 40 games (168 plate appearances) with Portland. He also played in the Arizona Fall League and made appearances at both corner outfield spots for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Hamilton is undoubtedly the most surprising addition listed here. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Brewers alongside Alex Binelas and Jackie Bradley Jr. in last December’s Hunter Renfroe trade. He spent the entirety of his first season in the Red Sox organization in Portland.

With the Sea Dogs, the left-handed hitting Hamilton batted .251/.338/.402 with 16 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 81 runs scored, a franchise-record 70 stolen bases, 56 walks, and 119 strikeouts over 119 games spanning 531 trips to the plate. He is capable of playing adequate defense at either second base or shortstop.

Given that his speed is his standout tool, Hamilton’s addition to the 40-man roster may have something to do with the rule changes that are coming to Major League Baseball. Larger bases, a pitch timer, limiting throws to first base, and limits on defensive shifts certainly make speedsters such as Hamilton more appealing moving forward.

Following Tuesday’s series of moves, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is at full capacity. That will likely change between now and the non-tender deadline on Friday.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox top pitching prospect Brandon Walter done for season

If there was any hope that Brandon Walter was going to return to the mound before the end of the season, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham put that to rest on Monday.

Walter, who is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system, last pitched in an affiliated game on June 8. He was placed on the minor-league injured list with a neck strain on June 24 and has been rehabbing in Fort Myers since early July.

“It’s a little more complicated in terms of exactly what he’s dealing with,” Abraham told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “It’s (also) a back issue — obviously they’re all correlated. He’s been doing some light physical activity. He’s been checked out by some doctors. He’s going to miss the rest of the season, obviously, but we’re hopeful he’s going to have a normal off-season ramp-up to be ready for next year.

“Without getting into too many specifics, it’s a neck strain that has turned into a little bit more of a back issue,” he added. “A bulging disc is actually what we’re talking about here. We’re just kind of working our way through that.”

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft as a senior out of the University of Delaware, Walter burst onto the scene last season by displaying more explosive stuff and posting a 2.92 ERA in 89 1/3 innings between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.

The 25-year-old left-hander broke camp this spring with Double-A Portland and proceeded to pitch to a a 2.88 ERA and 2.73 FIP over nine starts (50 innings) before earning a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late May. He made just two starts for the WooSox, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, before straining his neck.

Walter, who turns 26 next week, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound southpaw is equipped with a unique delivery and a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s sinker, a low-80s changeup, and a low-80s slider. He could be of interest to other clubs if the Red Sox do not protect him. They will have until late November to make that decision.

(Picture of Brandon Walter: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox place top pitching prospect Brandon Walter on Triple-A Worcester’s 7-day injured list due to neck strain

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter has landed on Triple-A Worcester’s 7-day injured list due to a neck strain, the team announced on Friday.

Walter, who owns an 8.22 ERA in two starts (7 2/3 innings) for the WooSox, last pitched in a game on June 8, when he struck out five over six one-run innings against the Buffalo Bisons at Sahlen Field.

Since then, the 25-year-old left-hander has only just resumed throwing and is unlikely to return to Worcester’s starting rotation before the month of June comes to an end, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

The Red Sox originally selected Walter in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware. As an unheralded college senior, the New Castle native received a modest $35,000 signing bonus from the club.

After his first full professional season was wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walter burst onto the scene in 2021 by posting a 2.92 ERA in 89 1/3 innings between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.

The 6-foot-2, 200 pound southpaw broke camp this spring with Double-A Portland and pitched to a 2.88 ERA (2.74 FIP) with 68 strikeouts to just three walks over nine starts (50 innings) with the Sea Dogs before earning a promotion to Worcester on the final day of May.

Equipped with a low-90s sinking fastball, a sweeping low-80s slider, and a plus changeup, Walter is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks second among pitchers in the organization behind only fiery right-hander Brayan Bello.

Walter, who turns 26 in September, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this December if the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline. Even with this latest setback, it seems all but certain that Walter will indeed be added this fall.

(Picture of Brandon Walter: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote top pitching prospect Brandon Walter to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have promoted top pitching prospect Brandon Walter to Triple-A Worcester, according to multiple reports.

Walter, 25, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks second among pitchers in the organization. The left-hander was originally selected by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware.

After signing with the Sox for a modest $35,000, Walter saw his first full professional season get wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Castle native then burst onto the scene in 2021 by posting a 2.92 ERA in 25 appearances (14 starts) between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.

This spring, Walter broke camp with Double-A Portland and continued to impress. In nine starts for the Sea Dogs, the southpaw pitched to a 2.88 ERA and 2.88 FIP with 68 strikeouts to just three walks over 50 innings of work. He allowed a total of two earned runs while striking out 19 in his final two starts.

Among qualified Eastern League pitchers, Walter ranks fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (12.24), first in walks per nine innings (0.54), third in strikeout rate (34.7%), sixth in swinging strike rate (16.8%), first in walk rate (1.5%), fifth in batting average against (.191), first in WHIP (0.78), fifth in ERA, fourth in FIP, and second in xFIP (2.42), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Walter throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out 95 mph, an 82-85 mph changeup, and an 80-83 mph slider, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Walter, who turns 26 in September, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. Given how he has performed so far this year, it seems all but certain that the Red Sox will protect and add the lefty to their 40-man roster by the November deadline.

In the meantime, Walter will join a talented WooSox rotation that already includes the likes of No. 1 pitching prospect Brayan Bello, Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford, and Connor Seabold.

Walter last pitched on May 26, so he could be in line to make his WooSox debut against the Syracuse Mets at Polar Park on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

(Picture of Brandon Walter: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello tosses 7-inning no-hitter for Portland Sea Dogs

One day after being added to Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, Red Sox pitching prospect tossed a seven-inning no-hitter for Double-A Portland on Thursday night.

Making his fifth start of the season for the Sea Dogs as they went up against the Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies affiliate) in the second game of a doubleheader at Hadlock Field, Bello allowed just one unearned run on no hits, three walks, and five strikeouts over seven innings of work.

Interestingly enough, the right-hander’s bid for a perfect game was broken up right away as he issued a leadoff walk to the very first batter he faced. He then breezed through the first three innings of his outing before running into some trouble in the fourth.

There, old friend Josh Ockimey drew a leadoff walk of his own and effectively switched places with Jhailyn Ortiz after he grounded into a force out at second base. A fielding error committed by Pedro Castellanos allowed Ortiz to advance to third and a throwing error committed by Christian Koss allowed him to score his side’s only run.

From there, Bello ended things in the fourth with a strikeout and proceeded to retire nine of the final 10 hitters he faced. He completed the no-hitter and secured a 3-1 win by getting Jonathan Guzman to ground out to ground out to shortstop. He was greeted by his teammates on the mound once the final out of the seventh was recorded.

Of the 96 pitches Bello threw on Thursday, 55 went for strikes. The Dominican-born righty now owns an ERA of 1.95 and WHIP of 0.87 through his first five starts (27 2/3 innings pitched) of the year.

Bello, who turns 23 in less than two weeks, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among pitchers in the organization. The Samana native entered the publication’s top 100 rankings on Wednesday and is now regarded as the 97th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

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. He has a chance to earn a promotion to Triple-A Worcester at some point this summer and is already on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.

Shortly before Bello took the mound for the Sea Dogs on Thursday night, Brandon Walter had just put the finishing touches on a solid outing himself. Fresh off being named the Eastern League Pitcher of the month for April, the 25-year-old left-hander scattered three hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with 10 strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work earlier in the afternoon. His ERA on the season now sits at a miniscule 0.93.

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

Red Sox’ Brandon Walter takes home Eastern League Pitcher of the Month honors after stellar April

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)

Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter ahead of Portland Sea Dogs debut: ‘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’

Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter is slated to make his first start of the season for Double-A Portland on Sunday afternoon as they go for a series victory over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock Field.

Update: It was a quality 2022 debut for Walter, who allowed zero runs on one hit, no walks, and one hit batsman to go along with seven strikeouts over five solid innings of work. 40 of the 62 pitches he threw went for strikes.

—–

Walter, 25, burst onto the scene in 2021 while putting together a stellar season between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville. The left-hander was not even regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system at this point last year.

After breaking minor-league camp with Salem, though, Walter proceeded to put up a 1.45 ERA and 1.78 FIP with 46 strikeouts to just six walks over his first 13 appearances (two starts) and 31 innings of the season before earning a promotion to Greenville in early July 6.

With the Drive, Walter was used primarily as a starter. The lefty posted a 3.70 ERA and 3.13 FIP to go along with 86 strikeouts to 14 walks across 12 starts and 58 1/3 innings pitched at the High-A level. He was recognized by MLB Pipeline as the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in October.

The Red Sox originally selected Walter in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware. As a late-round senior sign, the New Castle native received a modest $35,000 bonus from the club.

Two years removed from Tommy John surgery at the time of signing with the Sox, Walter made his professional debut in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He appeared in 13 games for the GCL Red Sox before the season came to a close.

The following spring, Walter fell victim to the fact that the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the Red Sox did not invite him to their alternate training site that summer, Walter was left to develop on his own time. But he went on to take advantage of his time away from affiliated ball.

“I just used that whole time [to my advantage],” Walter told MLB.com’s Ian Browne back in December. “I wanted to add on some weight. I put on 15 pounds of muscle during that time to try to make myself a better athlete. I kept the arm going, I kept throwing. I just trained. I mean luckily for me, there was a bunch of Minor Leaguers from my area that were in the same situation. So we all just kind of looked at it as a time to get better.”

On the heels of what had the makings to be a lost year in 2020, Walter came into camp last spring and made immediate strides by displaying an increase in fastball velocity to coincide with his changeup and slider.

Among High-A East pitchers who accrued at least 50 innings on the mound in 2021, Walter ranked fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (13.27), 16th in walks per nine innings (2.16), second in strikeout rate (36.3%), 18th in walk rate (5.9%), eighth in batting average against (.211), seventh in WHIP (1.03), fifth in swinging strike rate (17.6%), fourth in FIP, and first in xFIP (2.58), per FanGraphs.

For as dominant as Walter was in Greenville last summer, he was — on average — facing hitters who were slightly less than a year younger than him. That will likely not be the case for 6-foot-2, 200 pound southpaw in 2022.

As he recently explained to The Portland Press Herald’s Travis Lazarczyk, Walter is aware of the significance that comes with the jump from pitching at High-A to pitching at the Double-A level.

“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,” Walter said. “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,” he added. “I’m kind of excited to see how I match up, how I’m going to attack these hitters.”

Walter, who turns 26 in September, enters the 2022 season as Baseball America’s No. 11 Red Sox prospect, which ranks fifth among pitchers in the organization.

Beyond the jump from High-A to Double-A, the 2022 campaign is undoubtedly an important one for Walter since he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career by the end of the year.

So, you can make the case that Walter will be pitching for a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster this season while also auditioning for 29 other teams in the event that he is not added to the Sox’ 40-man come late November.

(Picture of Brandon Walter: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter.

Walter, 25, was originally selected by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware.

A native of Delaware himself, the left-hander is a few weeks removed from a breakout 2021 season in which he enjoyed much success with Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.

All told, Walter posted a 2.92 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 132:20 over 25 appearances (14 starts) spanning 81 1/3 innings pitched between the two levels this season.

Among the topics Brandon and I discussed are what he attributes to his stellar 2021 campaign, what he did during the COVID-19 layoff last year, how he has changed as a pitcher since undergoing Tommy John surgery in college, what his draft experience was like coming out of the University of Delaware in 2019, how he has exceeded expectations as a 26th-round selection, what his plans for the offseason look like, where he would like to begin the 2022 season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thank you to Brandon for taking some time out of his Monday to have a conversation with yours truly. You can follow Brandon on Twitter (@b_walt_) by clicking here and on Instagram (@b_walt_) by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Brandon Walter courtesy of the Greenville Drive)

Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter owns 0.53 ERA in last 3 starts for High-A Greenville

Of the four Red Sox pitching prospects who started for their respective affiliates on Sunday, Brandon Walter is undoubtedly the least-known of the bunch.

Going off SoxProspects.com’s most-recent top 60 rankings, Walter (No. 41) ranks ranks behind the likes of Triple-A Worcester’s Kutter Crawford (No. 27), Double-A Portland’s Brayan Bello (No. 7), and Low-A Salem’s Bradley Blalock (No. 36).

Still, of those four hurlers, Walter put together the most impressive outing in High-A Greenville’s 2-1 victory over the Rome Braves at Fluor Field on Sunday afternoon.

In what was his sixth start of the year for the Drive, the left-hander kept the Braves off the scoreboard while scattering just one hit and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over five dominating innings of work.

Walter, who turns 25 next month, opened the 2021 season with Salem and posted a miniscule 1.45 ERA over 13 appearances (two starts) spanning 31 innings of work, resulting in a promotion to Greenville in early July.

Making his Drive debut on July 6, Walter got off to a shaky start, allowing a total of 12 earned runs to cross the plate over his first three outings and 12 innings pitched with the affiliate. That’s good for an ERA of 9.00.

On July 28, however, Walter seemingly turned a corner, as he struck out a career-high 12 batters while surrendering just two unearned runs on one hit, one walk, and one hit batsman over the course of six strong frames against the Hickory Crawdads.

Since then, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound southpaw really has not looked back and has emerged as one of the sharpest starters in the High-A East as a result.

That being the case because, going back to July 28, Walter has pitched to the tune of a dazzling 0.53 ERA and 1.67 FIP while striking out more than 39% of the batters he has faced over his last three starts (17 innings).

On the 2021 campaign as a whole, the Delaware native has produced a 4.03 ERA, a 3.62 FIP, and 2.09 xFIP to go along with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 46:6 in his six starts and 29 innings of work put in with Greenville.

Among the top hurlers in the High-A East who have pitched at least 29 innings so far this season, Walter ranks fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (14.28), 16th in walks per nine innings (1.86), eighth in strikeout percentage (37.7%), 15th in walk percentage (4.9%), 29th in WHIP (1.10), 30th in FIP, and first in xFIP, per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally selected Walter in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware. In his time with the Blue Hens, the southpaw was forced to miss the majority of the 2017 season and the entirety of the 2018 season on account of undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Walter lowered his arm slot during the COVID-19 shutdown last year, which in turn added more velocity and life to his two-seam fastball. He also works with a mid-80s changeup and a slider that has “major-league potential.”

On top of that, the 24-year-old recently drew a comparison to Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough from FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen earlier this month as well.

“Walter had a huge velo bump from 2019-21, climbing from the upper-80s into the mid-90s,” Longenhagen wrote last week. “He’s also lowered his release a little bit, and works largely off a two-seamer (he can occasionally climb the ladder, living off angle) and changeup, as well as a tertiary slider that has more lateral movement now than it did in 2019 (probably due to the release change). He has an atypical delivery for a starter but definitely has a backend starter’s repertoire and command. In many ways, he’s similar to Ryan Yarbrough. I have Walter projected in a multi-inning relief role.”

Given how well he has performed in Greenville as of late, one has to wonder if Walter could be on the fast track to yet another promotion to Portland in the not so distant future — especially if the Red Sox project him to be more of a multi-inning reliever as Longenhagen suggests.

Regardless of that, though, Walter is lined up to make his next start for the Drive sometime next weekend during their series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays affiliate) in Southern Kentucky.

(Picture of Brandon Walter: Bryan Green)