Top-5 Red Sox prospects signed on the international market

DENVER, CO - JULY 11: Brayan Bello #17 of American League Futures Team pitches against the National League Futures Team at Coors Field on July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 11: Brayan Bello #17 of American League Futures Team pitches against the National League Futures Team at Coors Field on July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox prospect Brayan Bello
DENVER, COLORADO – JULY 11: Brayan Bello #17 of the American League team throws against the National League team during the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field on July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello

Not only is Brayan Bello the top Red Sox international prospect in MLB Pipeline’s rankings, he’s the highest rated of any pitcher in the organization and No. 6 overall. The Red Sox signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2017 when he was 18 years old, which made him relatively advanced by the standards of international signings.

After dominating in Rookie ball, Bello struggled during his first taste of Low-A in 2019. He went 5-10 with a 5.43 ERA in 25 starts. He showed flashes of brilliance but wasn’t able to maintain it consistently.

Bello impressed at the Red Sox instructional program in 2020 and that carried over into last season when he moved up to High-A. Bello went 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts to earn himself a promotion to Double-A. The results in Portland were shaky with Bello posting a 4.66 ERA in 15 starts. He allowed one earned run or fewer in three of his final five starts though, showing some progress down the stretch. Bello might take time to adapt to the challenge of moving up in the system but he’s capable of dominating once he settles in.

Bello throws a mid-90s fastball that he can crank up to the upper-90s to blow hitters away and a two-seam sinking fastball with great movement. His slider has some late snap to it that gets hitters to chase. Bello’s best pitch might be his chaneup, which looks like a fastball out of his hand but drops sharply as it reaches the plate.

He’s done a decent job of limiting free passes at most levels but an increase in walk rate to a 3.4 BB/9 in Double-A is a concern to monitor heading into next season. Control doesn’t necessary mean limiting walks. Bello can get hit hard when he doesn’t command his pitches in the strike zone. He can be dominant when he has a feel for all of his pitches but he needs to work on his consistency.

If he can put it all together, Bello has the upside to be a top of the rotation starter. His ceiling might not be quite as high as Mata’s but Bello took a big leap forward in 2021 while his fellow Red Sox pitching prospect was sidelined by surgery. For now, that bumps Bello to the top of this list.

Next. Red Sox top-30 prospect rankings. dark