Brayan Bello Debut Significant Milestone For Red Sox Player Development

Bello is the latest proof of organizational pitching depth


Jul 6, 2022

Wednesday is arguably the biggest day of 23-year-old Brayan Bello’s life thus far, and it’s also a pretty significant event for the Red Sox.

Bello will make his eagerly anticipated debut Wednesday night when Boston hosts the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. In doing so, the right-handed pitcher will mark a significant achievement for the organization’s player development system, too. Bello not only is the best Boston prospect to debut in years, he’s easily the club’s top homegrown pitching prospect to toe the big league rubber at least since Jon Lester in 2006 or Clay Buchholz in 2007.

The organization’s inability to develop front-line starting pitching spans decades. This is rather arbitrary, but it’s also kind of telling that a story from 2014 ranking the best Red Sox prospects of all time didn’t include a single full-time pitcher. You can count on a hand or two the number of legitimate big league pitchers the Red Sox have drafted, developed and saw flourish in Boston. It’s a list that’s obviously highlighted by Roger Clemens or Jon Lester but one that also requires forcing the issue to include someone like Buchholz. Then, for every Lester, there are at least four or five players like Henry Owens, Craig Hansen or Brian Rose.

Bello signed with the Red Sox in 2017, so he predates the current Chaim Bloom regime. That being said, Bloom and the revamped baseball operations department at Fenway deserve the bulk of the credit for the farm system transformation. Identifying and drafting or signing young talent is certainly a large part of the process. But Bello’s ascent also speaks to the importance of developing those pitchers within your system. Bello didn’t really start taking any real steps until the beginning of the 2021 season, and his consistent improvement over the last two seasons is a testament to not only his work but the guidance he’s been afforded in his various stops. That guidance obviously starts at the top with an organizational pitching philosophy.

Bello’s development is just one piece of the puzzle, though. In fact, the 2022 big league season is evidence of Bloom’s farm system overhaul on the mound. The Red Sox have received notable contributions from pitchers like Josh Winckowski, acquired in the Andrew Benintendi trade last season, or Connor Seabold, whom Boston acquired in a 2020 sell-off with Philadelphia. That same trade, of course, made Nick Pivetta a Red Sox. Tuesday night’s speedbump aside, Pivetta looks like a potential All-Star. We might also see an All-Star Game appearance or two in the future for Garrett Whitlock, a Rule 5 selection in 2020.

That list of contributors, which Bello joins Wednesday night, is arguably the biggest reason the Red Sox still are in playoff contention. Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi are Boston’s two best and highest-paid pitchers with Eovaldi giving the team a grand total of 68 1/3 big league innings this season. Sale has yet to pitch this season for Boston. Despite that, the Red Sox have the seventh-best ERA in baseball with the starters ranking ninth on their own. On Wednesday, Bello becomes the 11th starter the club has used this season; The New York Yankees, for comparison’s sake, have had nine different pitchers start games this season with five of those starters making 77 of 81 starts.

There should be even more help on the way. Bryan Mata (2016 international free agent) and Chris Murphy (2019 sixth-round pick) are knocking on the door of the majors, too. Noah Song, a fourth-round pick in 2019, dazzled before having to pause his career to attend Navy flight school, could soon be back in the system.

Developing pitchers is fickle by nature. But even if all those pitchers don’t pan out for the Red Sox, it’s possible they’re used to acquire other players who can make a big league impact. It’s all about identifying talented players, developing them and building the sort of depth that can sustain long-term success.

For the first time in a long time, it feels like optimism about the Red Sox’s ability to do that with pitchers is legitimate and warranted.

Thumbnail photo via Allan Jung/Telegram & Gazette via USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Red Sox pitcher Nick Pivetta
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