Red Sox

5 things to know about Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello

Pedro Martinez, one of Bello's idols, thinks the young pitcher's talent is "off the charts."

Brayan Bello Red Sox
Brayan Bello answers reporters' questions in the Fenway Park dugout ahead of his Major League debut. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Brayan Bello is set to make his Major League debut on Wednesday against the Rays, marking the latest career progression for the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system.

Bello, 23, has already pitched at two minor league levels in 2022. Having posted a combined 10-4 record with a 2.33 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 85 innings for Boston’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, Bello will now get his chance on the main stage at Fenway Park.

Currently, Bello is ranked third overall on the Red Sox prospect list and 46th on MLB.com’s league-wide analysis of the top 100 prospects.

Needless to say, his first career start for Boston has been an anticipated event for some time.

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Here are a few things to know about Bello prior to Wednesday’s game:

What scouts say about Bello

Over time, Bello has added speed to his fastball, which is now consistently “parking at 95-97 [miles per hour] and pushing triple digits,” according to an MLB.com scouting report.

His changeup is described as having “started as a work in progress, but is now his best secondary pitch,” per Sox Prospects.

Bello also possesses a slider with “short, 10-to-4 shape.” And while Sox Prospects also pointed out that his command of the pitch is still “inconsistent,” Bello will utilize the pitch “often and in any count.”

Arguably Bello’s best pitch is his sinker, something that was added more recently (late in 2021).

“In short order, that pitch became a jaw-dropper, an offering at 95-98 miles per hour that Bello leaned on in Triple-A Worcester this year at roughly a 35 percent rate,” wrote Boston Globe Red Sox reporter Alex Speier. “He became relentless with the sinker, unafraid to throw it in the strike zone, where its tremendous, late life resulted in swings-and-misses as well as a grass-cutting succession of groundballs — a formula for dominance.”

He wasn’t originally seen as a top level prospect.

Bello, according to virtually any scouting report that’s chronicled his career since becoming a professional, has added velocity to his fastball in the last few years.

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After originally topping out around 91-93 miles per hour, Bello now consistently touches the mid-to-upper 90s. That, together with his addition of secondary pitches, has helped to pave the way for his quick rise in 2022.

In a larger sense, Bello has grown both physically — he has recalled weighing just 130 pounds as a 6-foot tall 18-year-old when he signed with the Red Sox in 2017 — and mentally, adapting well to the perpetual cat-and-mouse game between pitcher and batter.

“Bello has gone from getting passed over in the 2015 and 2016 international signing periods to turning pro for a mere $28,000 in 2017 to ranking as Boston’s top pitching prospect five years later,” concluded MLB.com’s scouting report.

He learned his changeup from a former All-Star.

In 2021, longtime baseball insider Peter Gammons noted that Bello was seen by the Red Sox as the “fastest rising pitcher in [the] organization.”

Additionally, Gammons quoted a Red Sox front office official who claimed that Bello had “the best changeup I ever seen, at least since Pedro [Martinez].”

The backstory behind Bello’s changeup is that he originally learned it from longtime relief pitcher and three-time All-Star Fernando Rodney.

“He taught me how to grip it and then he taught me how to throw it,” Bello told MassLive’s Christopher Smith in 2021. “When I first signed, the guy who signed me also signed Fernando Rodney.

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“So whenever I go back to train, I go train with him,” Bello added.

The changeup has since become one of Bello’s best weapons on the mound.

“Can really pull the string on it and the pitch will fall off the table late,” Sox Prospects’ writeup said of Bello’s changeup. “True major league-quality, swing-and-miss pitch at its best.”

Pedro Martinez says Bello has ‘off the charts’ talent.

Given both his style as an aggressive pitcher and his country of origin (the Dominican Republic), Bello has inevitably drawn comparisons to Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez.

Bello has said in the past that he views Martinez as one of his idols, and has spoken to him on several occasions.

Martinez, for his part, holds Bello in high regard, but knows he has a long journey ahead of him to realize his full potential.

“I think his talent is off the charts,” Martinez said in a recent interview with Boston.com. “But to start talking about his talent alone is a waste of time.

“I just hope he continues to learn every day and then he can let the talent take over,” Martinez concluded.

He’s a strikeout pitcher.

Due to his increased velocity and his development of secondary pitches, Bello has established himself as a potentially dominant pitcher who can rack up strikeouts.

In his very first start for Worcester at the Triple-A level, Bello struck out 10 over six innings in a 5-2 win. He later became the first pitcher in the International League to record multiple double-digit strikeout games in 2022.

And testament to his recent rise, Bello has averaged close to 12 strikeouts per nine innings at every minor league level he’s pitched at since 2021.

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