Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello is slated to make his Major League debut on Wednesday, as MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison (Twitter link) reports that Bello has been told he’ll be starting Boston’s game against the Rays.
Bello is the consensus choice as the top pitcher in Boston’s farm system, and his big 2022 season has gotten him on the radar as one of the better young arms in the sport. In the most recently updated prospect rankings, Baseball America has Bello 44th on their top 100 list, Fangraphs has him 51st, and MLB Pipeline has the 23-year-old righty in the 75th position.
The Red Sox inked Bello for a modest $28K bonus during the 2016 international signing period, and while he pitched well enough in 2021 to earn a promotion to Double-A ball, he didn’t truly emerge until this season. With a 4.66 ERA over 63 2/3 innings for Double-A Portland last season, Bello returned to Portland to post a 1.60 ERA over six starts and 33 2/3 frames, thus earning him a ticket to Triple-A Worcester. The righty continued to impress, delivering a 2.81 ERA, 34.45% strikeout rate, and 10.05% walk rate in 51 1/3 innings with the WooSox.
Both Bello’s fastball and changeup are plus pitches, and his slider isn’t far behind as a strong third offering. Bello’s fastball has gained roughly 5-6 miles of velocity since 2019 and could now approach the 100mph threshold on occasion, though he’ll usually throw in the mid-90s. Command of that fastball has been an issue for Bello, but at its best, the fastball makes his changeup even more effective.
As promising as Bello is, stepping right into a big AL East matchup for a big league debut in July likely wouldn’t have happened if the Red Sox weren’t very shorthanded for starting pitchers. Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill, and Garrett Whitlock are all on the 15-day IL, plus Michael Wacha is battling a dead arm. This has left Nick Pivetta, Josh Winckowski, Connor Seabold, and perhaps Kutter Crawford all lined up for starts depending on who is healthy and who gets back from the IL in time. (Sale is tentatively slated to make his 2022 debut a week from today.)
Unless Boston’s injury woes continue or unless Bello completely dominates in his first taste of big league action, he probably isn’t likely to make an extended stay in Boston’s rotation. However, a solid showing could certainly earn Bello more starts, and perhaps more time in the majors as a multi-inning reliever down the stretch. All of the injuries have created uncertainty within the Red Sox rotation, and with plenty of questions still existing in the bullpen, there would seem to be room for a highly-touted youngster to seize a foothold on the active roster.