Red Sox’ Brayan Bello recognized by MLB Pipeline as top international prospect in Boston’s farm system

With the 2021-2022 international signing window officially opening this weekend, MLB Pipeline recently identified each team’s top international prospect across Major League Baseball.

For the Red Sox, that was none other than pitching prospect Brayan Bello, who signed with Boston out of the Dominican Republic for just $28,000 back in July 2017.

Then just 18 years old, Bello has since emerged as one of the premier young hurlers in the Sox’ farm system at the age of 22.

This past season, the right-hander began the year in the starting rotation High-A Greenville and quickly made strides there. He posted a 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to seven walks over six starts (31 2/3 innings pitched) for the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in early June.

With the Sea Dogs, Bello picked up where he left off by pitching to the tune of a 4.66 ERA — but much more respectable 3.12 FIP — with 87 strikeouts and 24 walks across 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work.

During his run in Portland, Bello was selected to represent the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field alongside infielder Jeter Downs. He allowed one run on one hit while recording the final two outs of the third inning of that contest on July 11.

At the conclusion of the 2021 minor-league season, Bello was recognized by the Sox and was named the organization’s starting pitcher of the year. The fiery righty was subsequently added to the club’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Bello operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball that touches 98 mph, a changeup, and a slider. He is also in the midst of developing a two-seamer, according to Baseball America.

In terms of prospect ranks, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks tops among pitchers in the organization. The Samana native is also ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top pitching prospect the Red Sox have in the fold.

Bello, who turns 23 in May, is presently projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the upcoming 2022 campaign with Portland. That being said, an early promotion to Triple-A Worcester certainly seems possible depending on the kind of start he gets off to in the spring.

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

Recapping how contingent of 8 Red Sox prospects performed in Arizona Fall League

The 2021 Arizona Fall League season came to a close on Saturday night, with the Mesa Solar Sox besting the Surprise Saguaros by a final score of 6-0 in the championship game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

With the Arizona Fall League making a triumphant return and closing out another exciting season in the desert, now is the time to reflect on how the contingent of prospects the Red Sox sent out west did in what is regarded by many as Major League Baseball’s “finishing school.”

Back in October, it was revealed that the Sox would be sending eight prospects to Arizona to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions alongside Guardians, Twins, Giants, and Rays minor-leaguers.

That initial list included catching prospect Connor Wong, but the backstop was ultimately replaced on Scottsdale’s roster by Christian Koss since he was a member of Boston’s taxi squad for the majority of their postseason run.

That said, the eight prospects who wound up representing the Red Sox were right-handers A.J. Politi, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski, left-hander Brendan Cellucci, catcher Kole Cottam, first baseman Triston Casas, and infielders Jeter Downs and Koss.

So, without further ado, here is how each of those players fared during their time with the Scorpions, who finished the 2021 AFL campaign with a record of 12-18.

A.J. Politi, RHP

Politi began the minor-league season in Double-A Portland’s starting rotation, but ultimately transitioned back to the bullpen towards the end of the summer and remained there upon reporting to Scottsdale.

In 11 relief appearances this fall, the 25-year-old posted a 5.84 ERA and 1.86 WHIP to go along with 10 strikeouts to eight walks over 12 1/3 innings of work.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall University, Politi is eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft since he was left unprotected and not added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday.

Connor Seabold, RHP

Seabold had quite the eventful first full season in the Red Sox organization after coming over from the Phillies alongside fellow righty Nick Pivetta in the same trade that sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia last August.

The 25-year-old hurler was already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster coming into 2021, but missed the first several weeks of the minor-league season due to right elbow inflammation and did not make his first start for Triple-A Worcester until July 23.

On September 11, Seabold made his major-league debut against the White Sox and allowed two earned runs in three innings before being optioned back to Worcester the following day and closing out the year with the WooSox.

With the Scorpions, Seabold led the team in innings pitched (20 1/3) while putting up a 4.87 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in addition to 32 strikeouts and 12 walks over six starts.

Josh Winckowski, RHP

One of five players the Red Sox acquired in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals in February, Winckowski emerged as one of the organization’s more intriguing pitching prospects in 2021 and was just protected from the Rule 5 Draft as a result of doing so.

Now a member of the Sox’ 40-man roster, Winckowski split the minor-league season between Portland and Worcester while mainly being used as a starter, but was strictly utilized as a reliever in the fall league.

Over six appearances out of Scottsdale’s bullpen, the 23-year-old produced a 6.55 ERA and 1.73 ERA while recording three strikeouts and four walks in his 11 innings of relief. He was also involved in a benches-clearing brawl with Pirates prospect Canaan Smith-Njigba earlier this month that resulted in both players getting ejected.

Brendan Cellucci, LHP

The lone southpaw representing the Red Sox in the AFL, Cellucci spent the entirety of the 2021 season at High-A Greenville and was one of six lefties on Scottsdale’s roster this fall.

In 10 outings out of the Scorpions bullpen, Cellucci yielded an ERA of 6.94 and WHIP of 1.89 while striking out 11 batters and walking seven over 11 2/3 innings pitched.

A native of Philadelphia who the Red Sox took out of Tulane University in the the 12th round of the 2019 draft, Cellucci does not turn 24 until next June and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career next winter.

Kole Cottam, C

Cottam began the year in Greenville and later earned himself a midseason promotion to Portland on July 29 while being regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the Red Sox farm system.

A 2021 Arizona Fall League Fall Star, the 24-year-old backstop out of the University of Kentucky batted a solid .275/.356/.510 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks, and 13 strikeouts over 15 games (59 plate appearances) for Scottsdale.

Like Politi, Cottam could have been added to Boston’s 40-man roster last week in order to receive protection from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. But the club elected not to do so, thus leaving him exposed if other teams are interested.

Triston Casas, 1B

The top prospect the Red Sox sent to Arizona, Casas put the finishing touches on an impressive year by putting his talent and skills on full display with the Scorpions.

Among qualified hitters in the AFL this year, Casas ranked fifth in batting average (.372), first in on-base percentage (.495), 26th in slugging percentage (.487), and 12th in OPS (.982) in the process of joining Cottam in the Fall Stars Game.

A former first-round pick out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.) in 2018, the left-handed hitting Casas — who turns 22 in January — figures to make his big-league debut for Boston at some point during the 2022 season.

Jeter Downs, 2B/SS

There was always going to be pressure on Downs since he was the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, but the 23-year-old infielder got his first taste of the Triple-A level this year and it did not go all that swimmingly.

Still, the Red Sox sent Downs to play in the fall league despite the struggles he endured over the summer and it now appears as though that decision paid off.

Across 16 games (72 plate appearances) for the Scorpions, Downs slashed .228/.389/.491 with five homers, 14 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, 14 walks, and 18 strikeouts while playing both middle infield positions.

Like Winckowski, Downs was added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday, which came as no surprise.

Christian Koss, INF

Acquired from the Rockies in exchange for pitching prospect Yoan Aybar last December, Koss enjoyed a solid 2021 season with Greenville and later received an invite to play in the Arizona Fall League in order to replace the aforementioned Wong.

In 14 games with Scottsdale, the versatile infielder batted .229/.275/.250 to go along with one double, six RBIs, four runs scored, two stolen bases, three walks, and eight strikeouts across 51 total trips to the plate.

A product of University of California, Irvine who played on the Cape in 2017 and 2018, Koss has proven he is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop in the minors.

The right-handed hitter turns 23 in January and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career next winter.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Red Sox add Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Jeter Downs, and Josh Winckowski to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox have added four prospects to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Right-handers Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, and Josh Winckowski and infielder Jeter Downs were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster, which now increases from 33 to 37 players.

Clubs had until Friday at 6 p.m. eastern time to add eligible minor-leaguers to their respective 40-man rosters or otherwise risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft, which usually takes place during the last day of the Winter Meetings in December.

By adding just the four names listed above, the Red Sox could now be faced with losing other notable prospects such as Thaddeus Ward, Durbin Feltman, Ceddane Rafaela, Frank German, Victor Santos, Kole Cottam, and Gilberto Jimenez in next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

Of the quartet of prospects the Sox did add, one made it as far as the major-leagues under unique circumstances, two made it as far as Triple-A Worcester, and one made it as far as Double-A Portland this past minor-league season.

Bello began the year in High-A Greenville’s starting rotation, but earned a promotion to Portland on June 8. In 15 starts for the Sea Dogs, the 22-year-old righty posted a 4.66 ERA and 3.12 FIP to go along with 87 strikeouts to 24 walks over 63 2/3 innings of work.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 in July 2017, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among pitchers in the organization. He was named the team’s minor-league Starting Pitcher of the Year in September.

Crawford, on the other hand, started out in Portland this spring as he was coming off Tommy John surgery that he underwent in October 2019. The 25-year-old ultimately earned a promotion to Worcester in late July, signaling that he was on the verge of a big-league call-up.

In the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Sox called up Crawford from Worcester to fill in for Nick Pivetta against the Guardians on Sept. 5 at Fenway Park.

He allowed five earned runs in two innings and was promptly returned to the WooSox the following day, but Boston was able to remove the former 16th-round draft pick from their 40-man roster since he was a COVID-19 replacement.

Since the minor-league season ended last month, Crawford has been dominating in the Dominican Winter League. In four starts for Estrellas Orientales, he has allowed just two runs (one earned) on 12 hits, six walks, and 18 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 0.49.

Winckowski, meanwhile, was one of five players the Red Sox acquired in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February.

Like Crawford, Winckowski began the 2021 campaign with the Sea Dogs and pitched to the tune of a 4.14 ERA and 4.02 FIP over 21 appearances (20 starts) and exactly 100 innings before getting promoted to Worcester in late September.

In his brief stint with the WooSox that spanned two starts, the 23-year-old produced a 2.25 ERA and 3.28 FIP while recording 13 strikeouts and three walks in 12 innings pitched. He worked strictly as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League and is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into 2022 season.

As for Downs, the move for Boston to add him to the 40-man roster comes at no surprise considering he was the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles last year.

After the minor-league season was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs began 2021 with the WooSox and stuck their throughout the year while slashing .190/.272/.333 with nine doubles, 14 home runs, 39 RBIs, 39 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 99 games spanning 405 trips to the plate.

Despite the difficulties Downs encountered in his first exposure to Triple-A pitching, there was never really any doubt when it came to the Red Sox adding the talented 23-year-old infielder to their 40-man roster.

Capable of playing both middle infield positions, Downs, like Bello, represented the Sox in this summer’s All-Star Futures Game in Denver. He also enjoyed some success in the Arizona Fall League these last few weeks — as evidenced by his .880 OPS for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Red Sox farm system.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas selected to 2021 Fall Stars Game

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas has been named a 2021 Arizona Fall League Fall Star, the league announced on Wednesday morning.

Casas will represent the Sox and the Scottsdale Scorpions when he suits up for the East Division Fall Stars team this coming Saturday. Fellow Red Sox prospect Jeter Downs was also named a final vote candidate.

One of eight prospects Boston sent to Arizona, Casas has put together a strong showing in his brief time with the Scorpions. Through 17 AFL games, the 21-year-old first baseman is slashing an impressive .333/.457/.424 to go along with three doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, 15 runs scored, 13 walks, and 17 strikeouts over 81 plate appearances thus far.

Among the top hitters in this year’s installment of the Arizona Fall League, Casas ranks seventh in hits (22), ninth in runs scored, ninth in walks, ninth in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging percentage, and 19th in OPS (.881), per MLB.com.

Casas, who turns 22 in January, has certainly had an action-packed 2021 season. He began the year with Double-A Portland, left the team on two separate occasions to ultimately help the United States baseball team win a silver medal in the Summer Games in Tokyo, and was promoted to Triple-A Worcester in late September.

The left-handed hitting infielder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system a little more than three years after he was selected by the Sox in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.).

Downs, meanwhile, will have a chance to join Casas in this weekend’s Fall Stars Game in Scottsdale.

The 23-year-old infielder, who also hails from the Miami-area, comes into play Wednesday batting .196/.393/.522 with five homers, 14 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, 14 walks, and 15 strikeouts across 13 games (61 plate appearances) for the Scorpions.

Fans have until 2 p.m. eastern time on Friday to vote Downs into the Fall Stars Game, as he is competing against the likes of Giants prospect Marco Luciano and Rockies prospect Michael Toglia. Voting can be done by following this link.

As previously mentioned, the Fall Stars Game itself takes place on Saturday night. First pitch from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is slated for 7 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Taylor Jackson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs continues to light it up in Arizona Fall League

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs continues to rake for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.

As part of a 7-6 loss to the Glendale Desert Dogs at Scottsdale Stadium on Monday afternoon, Downs went 1-for-3 with a grand slam as well as a walk and strikeout while batting out of the eight-hole.

After drawing a two-out walk in the second inning, punching out in the fifth inning, and flying out in the sixth inning, Downs’ grand slam came in the bottom half of the eighth.

With two outs and the bases full after Desert Dogs right-hander Kyle Hurt on a single, a wild pitch, and two walks, Downs greeted the Dodgers prospect by crushing a bases-clearing grand slam to the opposite field that at the time cut Glendale’s lead down to one run.

By going deep yet again on Monday, Downs has now clubbed five home runs through his first six games for Scottsdale, which is tops amongst all hitters in the Arizona Fall League.

To go along with those five home runs, the 23-year-old middle infielder has also collected 13 RBI, scored seven runs, stole one base, draw eight walks, and strike out six times while slashing an impressive .333/.517/1.048 over 29 plate appearances thus far.

Regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Downs enjoying some early success three weeks into the Arizona Fall League campaign certainly is encouraging.

One of the three players the Red Sox got back from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles, the Colombian-born right-handed hitter endured his fair share of struggles with Triple-A Worcester this season.

Coming off a 2020 season in which he was limited to working out at the alternate training site on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs hit just. 190/.272/.333 (62 wRC+) with nine doubles, 14 homers, 39 RBI, 39 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 99 games (405 plate appearances) in his first exposure to the Triple-A level.

On the surface, those numbers obviously do not jump off the page. However, it is worth mentioning that from September 14 through the end of the minor-league season, Downs slashed a much-improved .316/.372/.579 (149 wRC+) to go along with one double, three home runs, eight RBI, four runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and 11 strikeouts in his final 11 games (43 plate appearances) of the year.

It appears as though Downs has carried over how he ended his season with the WooSox to how he has started the Arizona Fall League season with the Scorpions, who will host the Surprise Saguaros in their 12th game of the year later Tuesday afternoon.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this winter. And so he will most definitely be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline in order to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Taylor Jackson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs catching fire in Arizona Fall League

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs may only be a few weeks removed from an overall tough season with Triple-A Worcester this year, but the young middle infielder has certainly gotten off to a hot start in the Arizona Fall League.

Playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions alongside other Red Sox, Indians, Twins, Giants, and Rays prospects, Downs went 2-for-4 with a home run, an RBI, two runs scored, one walk, and one strikeout as part of an 11-9 loss to the Mesa Solar Sox at Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Batting out of the two-hole behind Rays prospect Matt Dyer and ahead of Twins prospect Matt Wallner, Downs began his day by crushing a solo shot off Marlins prospect Evan Fitterer with one out in the bottom of the first inning, marking the third straight game in which he has homered.

The 23-year-old, who was playing shortstop on Wednesday (and can also play second base), later drew an eight-pitch walk with no outs in the third inning, struck out on four pitches in the fifth inning, flew out to center field for the final out of the seventh inning, and led off the ninth inning with a single before scoring on a passed ball to wrap up what was a productive afternoon at the plate and on the base paths.

Since the 2021 Arizona Fall League season began on October 13, Downs has appeared in four games for the Scorpions and — following Wednesday’s strong performance — is currently slashing .357/.550/1.000 with three home runs, six RBI, five runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and three strikeouts over 20 trips to the plate.

One of three players (two prospects) the Red Sox acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles last February, Downs finally got his first taste of Triple-A action this year after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the hole, the 2021 campaign was not a particularly encouraging one for Downs. While he was selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game in Denver over the summer, the right-handed hitter overall struggled to the tune of a .190/.272/.333 (62 wRC+) across 99 games and 405 plate appearances with the WooSox.

That being said, Downs was at least able to salvage his season towards the end, and it came right around the same time fellow top Sox Prospect and Miami-area native Triston Casas earned a promotion to Worcester in late September.

From Sept. 17 until the Triple-A season came to a close on October 3, Downs hit an impressive .355/.400/.581 (158 wRC+) with one double, two homers, seven RBI, three runs scored, one stolen base, two walks, and eight strikeouts over his final nine games (35 plate appearances) of the year. Casas was promoted from Double-A Portland right in the middle of that stretch on Sept. 22.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks three spots behind Casas, who is also playing for the Scorpions with five other Red Sox prospects in left-hander Brendan Cellucci, right-handers Andrew Politi, Connor Seabold, and Josh Winckowski, catcher Kole Cottam, and infielder Christian Koss.

Connor Wong is also listed on Scottsdale’s roster, but the catching prospect is currently with the Red Sox as part of their taxi squad for their American League Championship Series clash with the Astros.

Going back to Downs, the 5-foot-11, 193 pounder out of Colombia can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this winter if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November 2020 deadline.

When speaking with The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan recently, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham relayed that Downs wanted to play in the Arizona this fall even after a long and full season with Worcester.

Abraham also indicated that the Sox view Downs “as an up-the-middle, impact player” who is capable of driving the baseball while playing sound defense and running the bases.

“He’s an all-around player,” Abraham said, “and that’s really exciting for us.”

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Norm Hall / MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox to send 8 prospects to Arizona Fall League: Triston Casas, Jeter Downs among those who will play for Scottsdale Scorpions

Major League Baseball unveiled rosters for its six Arizona Fall League teams earlier Wednesday morning, and it turns out the Red Sox will be sending eight of their top prospects out west later this month.

After the COVID-19 pandemic halted things in 2020, the AFL is back in full swing this year, as the 2021 season is set to kick off on October 13.

The Red Sox, as well as the Indians, Twins, Giants, and Rays, will all be represented by the Scottsdale Scorpions of the AFL East Division. The Scorpions play their home games at Scottsdale Stadium and their season will be six weeks in length.

So, without further ado, here are the prospects the Sox will have play for the Scorpions to begin the 2021 AFL season, though more could join this group as the fall rolls along.

Pitchers (4): Brendan Cellucci, Andrew Politi, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski

Catchers (2): Kole Cottam, Connor Wong

Infielders (2): Triston Casas, Jeter Downs

Of these eight prospects, Triston Casas is the lone representative in Baseball America’s top-100 rankings.

Casas, regarded by BA as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 15 prospect in baseball, put together a strong 2021 campaign in which he helped Team USA win a silver medal in the Olympic Games in Tokyo over the summer.

In addition to being named the best first baseman in that particular tournament, the 21-year-old posted a .284/.395/.484 slash line to go along with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 52 RBI, 57 runs scored, six stolen bases, 49 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 77 games (329 plate appearances) with Double-A Portland before earning a late promotion to Triple-A Worcester on September 22.

With the WooSox, Casas appeared in nine games and batted .242/.381/.485 with three doubles, one triple, one homer, seven RBI, six runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and eight strikeouts over nine games (42 plate appearances) to close out the minor-league season.

Fellow infielder Jeter Downs was once included in Baseball America’s top-100 rankings, but has since fallen off that list on account of a poor offensive season with Worcester in which he put up a subpar 62 wRC+ across 405 plate appearances.

Still just 23 years old, Downs did at least end his season on a high note by slashing .314/.359/.514 (130 wRC+) with two home runs and seven RBI over his final 10 games (39 plate appearances) of the year from Sept. 16-30.

Like Downs, Connor Wong came over to the Red Sox as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February 2020.

The 25-year-old backstop made his major-league debut for Boston in June of this season and was most-recently included in his first career postseason roster when the Sox defeated the Yankees in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game at Fenway Park.

Kole Cottam, meanwhile, split the season between High-A Greenville and Portland after earning a midseason promotion to the Double-A level towards the end of July.

In 25 games with the Sea Dogs, the 24-year-old hit an impressive .282/.337/.526 (131 wRC+) with five doubles, one triple, four home runs, nine runs driven in, 11 runs scored, three walks, and 33 strikeouts over the course of 86 total trips to the plate.

Regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the organization, Cottam also threw out two of the 15 base runners who attempted to steal off him while with Portland.

As for the pitchers who will be joining these position players in Arizona, Brendan Cellucci — the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system, per BA — appeared in 36 games for Greenville this season.

The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 5.30 ERA across 37 1/3 innings pitched in those outings with the Drive, though he also put up a much more respectable 3.98 ERA and 3.97 xFIP.

Andrew Politi, on the other hand, struggled to the tune of a 6.36 ERA (and 4.50 xFIP) across 21 appearances — 15 of which were starts — and 75 innings of work, though he did not allow a run over his final four outings of the season from Sept. 10 on.

Connor Seabold, like Wong, made his big-league debut for the Sox earlier this season, while Josh Winckowski closed out his year with back-to-back strong performances for the WooSox.

All in all, the Red Sox will be represented by eight prospects in this year’s installment of the Arizona Fall League, which — as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — will be used by Major League Baseball to test out different rile changes, such as pitch timers, limiting the shift, larger bases and the automatic strike zone.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospects in the Futures Game: How did Brayan Bello, Jeter Downs fare in showcase?

While the Red Sox were in the process of falling to the Phillies by a final score of 5-4 at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon, two of the brightest prospects in Boston’s farm system were showcasing their talent nearly 2,000 miles away at Coors Field in Denver.

Infielder Jeter Downs and right-hander Brayan Bello both represented the Red Sox while playing for the American League in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game, and both prospects were able to get into the game.

Bello, who is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 9 pitching prospect in the Red Sox farm system, came on in relief of Rangers prospect Cole Ragans with one out in the bottom of third inning.

Inheriting a situation in which the American League was already trailing 3-0 and the National League had a runner on first base, Bello’s first pitch — a 97.7 mph fastball — was sent flying off the bat of Cardinals prospect Nolan Gorman, who reached second base on a hard-hit double before advancing to third on a wild pitch.

With that potential run just 90 feet away from scoring, Bello proceeded to give up a sacrifice fly to Padres catcher Luis Campusano that plated Gorman, but then rebounded by getting the Braves’ Michael Harris to line out to second to put an end to an inning as well as his outing.

Of the 11 pitches the 22-year-old hurler threw on Sunday, seven went for strikes, though he only induced one swing-and-miss, which came on an 0-0 changeup to Campusano.

Besides that, Bello averaged 97.9 mph with the four four-seam fastballs he threw while topping out at 98.1 mph with his well-regarded heater. He also threw five sliders and three changeups in total.

Bello, who originally signed with the Sox out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 back in 2017, is enjoying a breakout season in 2021.

Opening the year with High-A Greenville, the 6-foot-1, 170 pound righty went 5-0 while posting a 2.27 ERA and 2.62 xFIP with 45 strikeouts to just seven walks over six starts spanning 31 2/3 innings of work before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 8.

Since then, Bello has produced an ERA of 3.06 and xFIP of 3.81 to go along with 22 strikeouts and eight walks in five starts (17 2/3 innings pitched) with the Sea Dogs.

Downs, meanwhile, came off the bench in the fifth inning of Sunday’s seven-inning exhibition, as he took over at second base for Rays prospect Xavier Edwards.

Facing off against Nationals 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli in his first trip to the plate, Downs was bombarded by a barrage of high-octane fastballs that ranged between 98.4 mph and 100.4 mph.

The talented right-handed hitter was able foul off five of the first seven pitches he saw from Cavalli, but ultimately went down swinging on a 2-2, 91 mph changeup in the dirt that caught him off-balance.

In the seventh inning, however, Downs bounced back against Brewers left-hander Ethan Small.

With one out and runners on first and second, Downs took an 0-1, 92 mph fastball up and on the inner half of the plate and ripped a two-run double to deep left field that left his bat at a scorching 107.7 mph, making it the fourth hardest-hit ball of the day between both sides.

Downs was responsible for two of the three runs the American League scored, as the National League went on to take the showcase by a final score of 8-3.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old — one of three players acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade — is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system and trails only fellow infielder Triston Casas for the top spot.

2021 has marked Downs’ first exposure to the Triple-A level, and the first half of the minor-league season has proven to be an adjustment period for the native of Colombia.

Through 44 games (188 plate appearances) with Triple-A Worcester this year, Downs is boasting a .234/.309/.377 slash line (83 wRC+) to go along with three doubles, seven home runs, 17 RBI, 22 runs scored, 17 walks, and 55 strikeouts.

That said, Downs will look to get back on track after a decent showing in Denver, as the WooSox open up a seven-game series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park on Tuesday night.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello added to American League’s All-Star Futures Game roster

Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello has been added to the American League’s All-Star Futures Game roster as an injury replacement, according to Baseball Americs’s J.J. Cooper.

Per Cooper, Bello will be replacing top Mariners pitching prospect Emerson Hancock, who suffered an apparent non-structural arm injury within the last few days.

Bello, 22, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking ninth among pitchers in the organization.

The young right-hander initially opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville, where he went 5-0 across six starts and posted a 2.27 ERA and 2.62 xFIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to just seven walks over 31 2/3 innings of work.

Those consistently strong performances throughout May and into early June resulted in Bello getting promoted to Double-A Portland on June 8.

In the four weeks since that move, the lanky 6-foot-1, 170 pound hurler has pitched to the tune of a 3.45 ERA and 3.89 xFIP in four starts spanning 15 2/3 total innings for the Sea Dogs. He struck out a season-high of 10 batters in his second outing with Portland back on June 18.

“I saw through social media that he was dominant and then I saw the report today,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Bello’s performance the following day while the team was in Kansas City (via MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith). “I haven’t seen video (of him). Just got the report and he’s been very good so far this season. Yesterday was eye-opening. The report said he was very aggressive, very efficient and with good stuff. So I should probably start watching video and see what we have in him.”

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 during the 2017 international signing period, Bello’s pitch mix consists of a high-octane fastball that has reached triple digits this season, a plus changeup, and an improving slider, per Smith.

In being selected to play this weekend’s All-Star Futures Game, which takes place at Coors Field on July 11, Bello joins fellow prospect Jeter Downs as the two players who will be representing the Red Sox in the seven-inning exhibition.

The showcase certainly represents an enticing opportunity for Bello, as he will have the chance to show the baseball world what he is capable of ahead of what has the makings to be an extremely important offseason for the righty.

That is the case because Bello, who does not turn 23 until next May, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this December if he is not added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline.

As has been written on here before, that is definitely something worth keeping in mind as the minor-league season continues.

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

Red Sox infield prospect Jeter Downs to represent Boston in All-Star Futures Game on July 11

Red Sox infield prospect Jeter Downs will represent the Red Sox in the 2021 All-Star Futures Game on July 11, Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday.

Downs will serve as Boston’s lone representative for the American League squad in one of the hallmark events that will lead up to the 91st MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver on July 13.

“I think it’s great, honestly,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Wednesday when asked about Downs’ selection. “It’s a showcase. He’s going to be around the best of the best prospects in the league. This is a guy that we believe is going to be a good big-league player. Just to be in that environment he has to be special. So, looking forward for Jeter to go over there, do his thing, and enjoy the whole experience.”

This year’s American League team will be managed by former big-league reliever LaTroy Hawkins. The game itself is a seven-inning exhibition that features some of the top prospects in baseball that will begin at 3 p.m. eastern time on Sunday, July 11.

Downs, who turns 23 in late July, is regarded by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system, trailing only fellow infielder Triston Casas for the top spot in the organization.

One of three players acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, Downs has certainly experienced the trials and tribulations of playing at the Triple-A level for the first time in his career this season.

Coming into play on Wednesday, the right-handed hitting middle infielder is slashing .243/.323/.410 with three doubles, seven home runs, 16 RBI, 20 runs scored, 16 walks, 51 strikeouts, and 10 stolen bases over his first 38 games (164 plate appearances) for Triple-A Worcester.

In just his last seven games, though, Downs has seemed to turn a corner offensively, as he is hitting .320/.379/.440 (.819 OPS, 118 wRC+) since June 20.

That said, Downs was forced to exit the WooSox’ latest game on Tuesday after an awkward collision at home plate with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders catcher Rob Brantly. He was later checked for a head injury, per MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison.

With that in mind, it should be noted that Downs will be held out of Worcester’s lineup on Wednesday, though Morrison notes that ‘he looks to be fine’ and was out taking ground balls at shortstop earlier in the afternoon.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)