Red Sox top pitching prospect Brayan Bello to make first career start on Wednesday

Brayan Bello has been informed that he will start for the Red Sox on Wednesday, per MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison.

After Rich Hill suffered a left knee sprain in his start against the Cubs on Friday and was subsequently placed on the 15-day injured list as a result, the Red Sox found themselves in need of a starter for Wednesday night’s contest against the Rays at Fenway Park.

It just so happens that Bello also made his last start for Triple-A Worcester on Friday and would therefore be slated to work on regular rest. With Chris Sale set to make a rehab start for the WooSox at Polar Park on Wednesday, Bello became the clear choice.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for a modest $28,000 in July 2017, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 44 prospect in all of baseball.

The 23-year-old right-hander began the 2022 season with Double-A Portland before earning a promotion to Worcester on May 17. Since then, he has posted a 2.81 ERA and 2.68 FIP with 72 strikeouts to 21 walks over nine appearances (eight starts) spanning 51 1/3 innings of work for the WooSox.

In his last time out against the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field on July 1, Bello scattered two hits and three walks while fanning eight over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Forty-nine of the 84 pitches he threw went for strikes and 15 were of the swing-and-miss variety.

Among International League pitchers who have accrued at least 50 innings this year, Bello — as of Monday — ranks second in strikeouts per nine innings (12.62), second in strikeout rate (34.4%), first in swinging strike rate (16.2%), eighth in batting average against (.207), 11th in WHIP (1.17), fifth in ERA, second in FIP, and first in xFIP (2.64), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Bello throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 97-98 mph four-seam fastball that tops out at 99 mph, a two-seam fastball that typically sits in the mid-90s, an 87-89 mph changeup, and an 83-86 mph slider, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Bello, who does not turn 24 until next May, is already a member of the Red Sox’ 40-man roster; though the club will have to make a corresponding move of some sort to add the hard-throwing righty to the active roster, likely by optioning another pitcher to Worcester on Wednesday.

That being said, Bello will become the third player and second pitcher to make his major-league debut for Boston so far this season, joining the likes of Jeter Downs and fellow hurler Josh Winckowski.

At this time, it remains to be seen how long Bello’s first stint in the majors will last. Regardless of that, though, there will be plenty of hype surrounding Bello when he takes the mound at Fenway Park for the first time just after 7:10 p.m. eastern time on Wednesday evening.

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

Former Red Sox prospect Marcus Wilson makes MLB debut with Mariners

A former Red Sox prospect made his major-league debut on Wednesday afternoon.

Marcus Wilson, who Boston acquired from the Diamondbacks for Blake Swihart in April 2019, had his contract selected by the Mariners ahead of their series finale against the Orioles in Seattle.

The 25-year-old outfielder pinch-hit for Sam Haggerty in the eighth inning and drew a leadoff walk off a tough reliever in Jorge Lopez. He then recorded his first putout in right field on a 309-foot fly ball off the bat of Trey Mancini for the penultimate out of the ninth inning.

Originally selected by the D-backs in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft, Wilson spent parts of three seasons in the Red Sox organization after coming over in that aforementioned Swihart trade. The California native was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November 2019 in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

While the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson did spend some time at Boston’s alternate training site in Pawtucket that summer. The following spring, he broke camp with Triple-A Worcester.

In addition to clubbing the first home run in Polar Park history, Wilson batted .242/.370/.452 with 10 total homers and 30 RBIs over 64 games (265 plate appearances) with the WooSox. Despite those solid numbers, the right-handed hitter was designated for assignment ahead of last July’s trade deadline.

Three days after losing his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, Wilson was claimed off waivers by Seattle. He would spend the rest of the 2021 campaign with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate before being designated for assignment again in October.

This time around, however, Wilson cleared waivers and remained in the Mariners organization. He spent part of his spring at big-league camp in Peoria, Ariz and had spent the entirety of the 2022 season with the Tacoma Rainiers leading up to Wednesday’s lineup.

With the Rainiers this season, Wilson has slashed .209/.336/.469 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs over 59 games (238 plate appearances) while seeing playing time at both corner outfield spots.

Because Wilson, who turns 26 in August, has one minor-league option year remaining, the Mariners can shuttle him between Seattle and Tacoma for the rest of the season if they elect to keep him on their 40-man roster moving forward.

(Picture of Marcus Wilson: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Jeter Downs to make major-league debut at third base as Red Sox go for sweep of Tigers

As expected, Jeter Downs will make his major-league debut for the Red Sox in Wednesday night’s series finale against the Tigers at Fenway Park.

Downs, who was called up from Triple-A Worcester on Monday, will bat ninth and start at third base for Boston as it goes for a three-game sweep of Detroit.

It will mark Downs’ first-ever professional appearance at third base. The 23-year-old has only been used as a second baseman or shortstop throughout his minor-league career, which began when he was selected by the Reds in the first round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Since then, Downs has for the most part maintained his status as one of the game’s top prospects despite being part of two blockbuster trades. In December 2018, the Colombia native was dealt to the Dodgers as part of a deal that sent the likes of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and others to Cincinnati. A little more than a year later, he — as well as Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong — was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Mookie Betts and David Price in February 2020.

As the top prospect acquired in that deal, Downs began his career in the Red Sox organization with high expectations. He struggled to the tune of a .606 OPS in 99 games with the WooSox last season and has not fared much better this season.

At the time he was promoted, the right-handed hitting infielder was batting just .180/.297/.397 (86 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 21 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 53 games (222 plate appearances) for Worcester. As previously alluded to, Downs has been used exclusively at shortstop this season, though he does have plenty of experience at second base as well.

Downs, who turns 24 next month, will become the second player to make his big-league debut with the Red Sox this year and joins right-hander Josh Winckowski by doing so. The 5-foot-11, 195 pounder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

With Downs starting at third base for Alex Cora and the Red Sox on Wednesday, Rafael Devers will receive the night off while Xander Bogaerts will start at short. On the mound, it will be righty Michael Wacha making his 12th start of the season for Boston opposite Detroit left-hander Tarik Skubal.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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

How did Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski fare in major-league debut?

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski made his major-league debut in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Serving as Boston’s 27th man for the twin bill and donning the No. 73, Winckowski allowed four earned runs on six hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over three innings of work.

Both of those Baltimore runs came in the top of the third. After working his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and recording his first career punchout in the second, Winckowski ran into trouble in the third. The right-hander yielded a leadoff single to Austin Hays and a seven-pitch walk to Anthony Santander. The right-hander then got the first two outs of the frame before giving up an RBI single to Ramon Urias and three-run home run to Rougned Odor.

Odor’s 410-foot blast came off a 1-0, 93.8 mph sinker from Winckowski that was at the bottom of the zone. It gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead and played a key role in Winckowski’s day ending after just three innings. He was relieved by left-hander Austin Davis and ultimately took the loss as Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 4-2.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 62 (36 strikes), the 23-year-old hurler threw 29 sinkers, 16 sliders, 16 four-seam fastballs, and one changeup. He induced seven swings-and-misses between those four pitches while hovering around 92-97 mph with his fastball.

Winckowski, who turns 24 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization.

Since he served as the club’s 27th man, Winckowski will more than likely be optioned back down to Triple-A Worcester following the conclusion of Saturday’s night cap.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski will officially make major-league debut against Orioles on Saturday

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski will make his major-league debut and start Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Winckowski, who is already in Boston and has a locker in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, told reporters (including The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey) that he received word of the team’s decision on Friday and will have eight or nine people on-hand to watch his debut in-person.

The 23-year-old right-hander has made seven starts for Triple-A Worcester this season, posting a 3.13 ERA and 2.80 FIP to go along with 34 strikeouts to six walks over 31 2/3 innings of work. His last outing for the WooSox came on Sunday, so he is lined up to pitch on regular rest this weekend.

Among International League pitchers who have at least 30 innings under their belt to this point in the year, Winckowski ranks ninth in strikeout rate (27.9%), eighth in swinging strike rate (13.6%) sixth in walk rate (4.9%), fifth in batting average against (.183), first in WHIP (0.85), 13th in ERA, second in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.11), per FanGraphs.

Originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Estero High School, Winckowski was dealt to the Mets in the same trade that sent left-hander Steven Matz to Toronto last January. Less than two weeks later, the Florida native was involved in a three-team trade that sent him to the Red Sox and outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals.

Now in his second full year with the Sox, Winckowski 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 6-foot-4, 215 pound hurler works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball, a changeup, and a slider. He projects as either a back-end starter or reliever in the future.

Winckowski, who was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November, is slated to become the first Red Sox player to make their big-league debut this season.

Fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi is expected to get the start in the first game on Saturday afternoon (12:10 p.m. eastern time). Winckowski would then get the starting nod for the night cap (6:10 p.m. ET), likely serving as the Sox’ 27th man by doing so.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox Option Robert Stock to Pawtucket in Order to Make Room on Roster for Kyle Hart

As you may already be aware, left-hander Kyle Hart will be making his major-league debut for the Red Sox on Thursday evening. In order to make that happen, however, the Sox had to option right-hander Robert Stock to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Stock, 30, was initially recalled by Boston on August 11, a little over two weeks after he was claimed off waivers from the Phillies on July 27.

In his brief first go-around with the Red Sox, the University of Southern California product allowed one unearned run on two hits, three walks, and three strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings of relief this past Tuesday against the Rays.

Stock threw 42 pitches, just 18 of which were strikes, in his Red Sox debut and topped out at 98.9 mph with his four-seam fastball. It would not be a surprise to see the flamethrower up with the big-league club once again sometime in the near future.

As for Hart, the former 19th-round draft pick out of the University of Indiana will be making his long-awaited major-league debut Thursday exactly four years after making his first professional start for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on August 13, 2016.

The 27-year-old southpaw had been limited to just working in intrasquad games against his teammates at McCoy Stadium since last month, but he will now have the chance to make a strong first impression against the Rays at Fenway Park.

For Hart, command over velocity will be key.

“If you’re not dialed in, locating, then for me, I’m probably not going to be in the game very long if I’m not locating because that’s almost not an option for me,” he told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith on the Fenway Rundown podcast. “But if you’re not locating, then you have to attack with whatever you have that day in the zone. And that kind of goes with trusting your catcher and trusting your defense. We’ve got a pretty darn good defense up here. When in doubt, I want to try to let them make a play. My philosophy is pretty simple on pitching. I want to get a guy out on the first three or four pitches. So I’m trying to miss their barrel early on. When I get to two strikes, I’m trying to miss the bat. That’s kind of how I think about it. If I get to two strikes, I’m going to give you my best punch-out pitch and miss your whole bat. Early in the count, I want to miss your barrel and get you out.”

Hart will take the mound for the Red Sox for the very first time at approximately 4:30 p.m. eastern time on Thursday. The series finale against Tampa Bay will be broadcast on NESN and WEEI.