Red Sox relief prospect Ryan Fernandez has struck out 40 percent of the batters he has faced since earning promotion to Double-A Portland

Red Sox relief prospect Ryan Fernandez needed just 24 pitches — 19 of which were strikes — to toss two scoreless innings and wrap up a 9-4 win for the Portland Sea Dogs over the Hartford Yard Goats at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Wednesday night.

Since earning a promotion from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland on July 3, Fernandez has made eight relief appearances for the Sea Dogs. The right-hander has posted a 3.60 ERA and 3.43 FIP with 16 strikeouts to just two walks over 10 innings of work in those outings.

Prior to making the jump to Double-A, Fernandez began the 2022 season in Greenville and pitched to a 4.00 ERA (but more respectable 3.19 FIP) with 40 punchouts to nine walks across 25 appearances spanning 27 innings of relief for the Drive.

So, between the two levels to this point in the season, the 24-year-old has produced a 3.89 ERA and 3.25 FIP while recording 56 strikeouts and issuing 11 walks over 33 relief appearances (37 total innings). He has also converted 10 of a possible 13 save opportunities.

To put that all into perspective: Among the 57 pitchers in the Red Sox farm system who have thrown at least 30 innings coming into play on Thursday, Fernandez ranks second in strikeouts per nine innings (13.62), 12th in walks per nine innings (2.68), first in strikeout rate (35.9%), third in swinging strike rate (20.8%), 12th in walk rate (7.1%), 10th in groundball rate (52.3%), 13th in FIP, and third in xFIP (2.74), per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally selected Fernandez in the 23rd round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Hillsborough Community College in Plant City, Fla. The Tampa native signed with the club for $125,000 and made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League.

Despite the amount of success he has enjoyed so far this season, Fernandez has not yet caught the attention of any industry publications to the point where is ranked as one of the top 30 or so prospects in Boston’s farm system.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot, 170-pound hurler throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 96-98 mph fastball that tops out at 99 mph, a 90-92 mph cutter with a high spin rate, and an 87-89 mph slider.

Fernandez, who does not turn 25 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if he is left off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November. With that being said, it would not be too surprising if Boston has Fernandez pitch in the Arizona Fall League later this year so that it may further evaluate him.

Having Fernandez pitch in Arizona this fall would also give other clubs the opportunity to see the Florida-born righty in-person.

(Picture of Ryan Fernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

What to expect from Red Sox relief prospect Ryan Fernandez in 2022

If you visit the Red Sox’ official website and go to their 40-man roster page, you may notice an unfamiliar name included within the list of pitchers in Ryan Fernandez.

Fernandez, 23, has yet to pitch above the High-A level, so him being listed on Boston’s 40-man roster is more than likely the result of a web error or something of the sort.

Still, since Fernandez made his Grapefruit League debut against the Braves this past Wednesday, this felt like an opportune time to write about the right-hander the Red Sox selected in the 23rd round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Hillsborough Community College in Florida.

A native of Tampa, Fla. himself, Fernandez signed with the Sox for $125,000 in June 2018 and made his professional debut in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He then spent the entirety of the 2019 campaign with the short-season Lowell Spinners.

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season, Fernandez returned to affiliated ball in 2021 and broke camp with Low-A Salem. In 17 relief appearances for the Salem Sox, the righty posted a 1.50 ERA and 2.39 FIP to go along with 42 strikeouts to just nine walks over 36 innings of work.

On August 14, Fernandez earned a promotion to High-A Greenville and wound wind up ending the season with the Drive. Over seven outings there, Fernandez pitched to the tune of a 4.32 ERA and 5.21 FIP with 18 strikeouts and five walks across 16 2/3 innings pitched.

A 4.32 ERA is not an eye-opening statistic, obviously. In Fernandez’s case, however, it is worth mentioning that he allowed just one run over his final three appearances (6 innings) of the 2021 season in the month of September.

Among the 39 minor-league pitchers in the Red Sox organization who compiled at least 50 innings on the mound last year, Fernandez ranked second in ERA (2.39), 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (10.25), 11th in walks per nine innings (2.39), 12th in strikeout rate (27.8%) walk rate (6.5%), and batting average against (.230), ninth in WHIP (1.14), sixth in FIP (3.28) and xFIP (3.58), and eighth in swinging strike rate (16.7%), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-feet and 170 pounds, Fernandez operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, an 85-87 mph slider, an 80-84 mph curveball, and an 83-85 mph changeup, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

You will not find Fernandez, who turns 24 in June, on any major publication’s top Red Sox prospects list. Still, the Florida-born reliever is coming off a solid 2021 between both levels of A-ball and has received some attention this spring.

On that note, SoxProspects.com projects that Fernandez will return to Greenville for the start of the 2022 minor-league season. If he impresses there, though, a promotion to Double-A Portland at some point this spring or summer should not be ruled out.

(Picture of Ryan Fernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)