Red Sox pitching prospect C.J. Liu throws seven-inning no-hitter for Double-A Portland

Red Sox pitching prospect Chih-Jung “C.J.” Liu threw a seven-inning no-hitter in Game 1 of Double-A Portland’s doubleheader against the Akron RubberDucks on Friday night.

Making his fifth start of the season for Portland on the road at Canal Park, Liu walked just two and struck out six over seven scoreless, no-hit frames. The right-hander took a bid for a perfect game into the bottom of the third before issuing a two-out walk to Connor Kokx. He then retired the next eight batters he faced before giving up another free pass to Kokx with out in the sixth.

Liu once again stranded Kokx at first base by recording back-to-back strikeouts of Julian Escobedo and Angel Martinez. He preserved the no-hit effort by sitting by inducing one groundout and two flyouts in a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

All told, Liu sat down 21 of the 23 RubberDucks hitters he faced on 91 pitches (48 strikes). With Stephen Scott handling catching duties, the 24-year-old hurler induced 12 swings-and-misses and earned the winning decision with the first complete game shutout of his professional career.

Liu becomes the second Sea Dogs pitcher in franchise history to throw a complete game, seven-inning no-hitter. Brayan Bello, who is now with the Red Sox, first accomplished the feat at Hadlock Field exactly one year ago Friday.

Through five starts with the Sea Dogs to begin the 2023 season, Liu has posted a 3.65 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 29 strikeouts to 11 walks over 24 2/3 innings of work. Opponents are hitting just .216 against him.

A native of Taiwan, Liu originally signed with the Red Sox for $750,000 as an international free agent coming out Tainan City in October 2019. He was considered to be a switch-hitting two-way player at that time but has since been converted into a full-time pitcher. Liu did not name his pro debut until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and closed out the 2022 campaign with Portland after earning a late-season promotion from High-A Greenville.

Listed at 6-feet and 185 pounds, Liu throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 93-95 mph fastball that tops out at 98 mph, an 80-82 mph changeup, an 83-86 mph slider, and a 78-80 mph curveball, per his scouting report.

Liu, who just turned 24 in April, is currently regarded by as the No. 58 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks 24th among pitchers in the organization. He can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later this year if he is not added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by the deadline to do so in November.

(Picture of C.J. Liu: Kelly O’Connor/


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/

Red Sox pitching prospects Jeremy Wu-Yelland, Shane Drohan strike out 9 batters in respective starts for High-A Greenville, Low-A Salem

The two pitching prospects the Red Sox selected in last year’s amateur draft certainly showed out for their respective affiliates on Thursday night.

Jeremy Wu-Yelland, taken by the Sox in the fourth round out of the University of Hawaii, and Shane Drohan, taken in the fifth round out of Florida State University, each struck out a season-high of nine batters in their starts — which took place at the same time, but approximately 260 miles away from one another.

Wu-Yelland, who was just promoted to High-A Greenville earlier in the day, made his debut for the Drive a memorable one by tossing five scoreless, no-hit innings against the Asheville Tourists (Astros affiliate) at Fluor Field.

In addition to not allowing a run or hit, the left-hander worked his way around four walks and a hit batsman while striking out those nine batters.

Two of those four walks — and the HBP — issued by Wu-Yelland came in consecutive order to begin things in the top half of the third inning, thus loading the bases with no outs for Asheville.

The 22-year-old southpaw did not buckle under the pressure, however, and instead locked in by punching out Freudis Nova on three pitches before getting Shay Whitcomb to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

From there, Wu-Yelland struck out the side for the second time in the fourth and followed that up by retiring the final three hitters he faced in the fifth to end his outing on an encouraging note.

Of the 72 pitches Wu-Yelland threw on Thursday, 43 went for strikes. Six of his strikeouts were swinging, two were looking, and one was on a foul tip.

The Greenville bullpen took over for Wu-Yelland in the sixth and ensured that the lefty’s efforts would not go to waste as relievers Jose Espada, Oddanier Mosqueda, and Jacob Wallace saw the combined no-hit bid through to its completion.

In helping the Drive throw their fourth no-hitter in team history, Wu-Yelland was able to earn his first victory at the High-A level in his very first start there.

Prior to getting promoted on Thursday, the Seattle-area native had spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem, where he had posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP to go along with 77 strikeouts to 36 walks over 20 starts spanning 67 innings pitched.

Listed at an imposing 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Wu-Yelland — who was signed as a junior out of Hawaii by J.J. Altobelli — is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 12th among pitchers in the organization.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wu-Yelland “is one of the most explosive, powerful pitchers in Boston’s system” as he operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-octane fastball, a slider, and a changeup.

30 picks after taking Wu-Yelland in the fourth round of last summer’s draft, the Red Sox selected a fellow left-hander in the fifth round in the form of Drohan, who was also sharp for Low-A Salem on Thursday in the first game of their seven-inning doubleheader against the Fredericksburg Nationals at Haley Toyota Field.

Over five quality innings of work, Drohan surrendered just one earned run while scattering just four hits and no walks with a season-high nine strikeouts on the night.

Drohan, also 22, faced all of 14 batters — just two over the minimum — through his first four frames, but ran into some trouble in the top half of the fifth when he yielded back-to-back one out doubles to Jaden Fein and Jose Sanchez, resulting in Fredericksburg plating their first run.

A wild pitch allowed Sanchez to move up to third, though Drohan managed to strand him there by sitting down the final two hitters he faced to retire the side in the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (53 strikes), the Florida State product was able to pick up his sixth winning decision of the season while also lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.89.

Through 20 starts with Salem now, Drohan has pitched to the tune of a 3.89 ERA, a .241 batting average against, and a 1.40 WHIP to go along with 75 strikeouts to 40 walks in 78 2/3 total innings of work.

A former 23-round draft pick of the Phillies out of high school who opted to honor his commitment to Florida State in 2017, Drohan is not regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system.

The 6-foot-3, 195 pound Florida native is, however, regarded by as the No. 32 prospect in the Red Sox organization, as his pitch arsenal is currently comprised of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and 80-83 mph changeup.

Both Wu-Yelland and Drohan can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after the 2023 season, so there is no rush for the Red Sox to add either hurler to their 40-man roster at the moment.

(Picture of Jeremy Wu-Yelland: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)