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.

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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)