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December 4, 2020 at 9:00 AM

Scout Chatter: Aldo Ramirez, Brayan Bello and more from Fall Instructs

 The Red Sox recently wrapped up their 2020 Fall Instructional League, and this is the final installment of reports we received from Instructs. The data we’ve collected will be up on the News Page for your reading pleasure before we use it to update player page scouting reports, so forgive any inconsistencies until that point. Today, we focus primarily on pitchers the Red Sox signed as international free agents over the last few years. 

- 19-year-old Mexican right-hander Aldo Ramirez was the consensus top pitcher at Red Sox Fall Instructs. Though Eduard Bazardo showed more impressive stuff, long term, Ramirez projects as a more valuable player with a higher ceiling. Ramirez sat 92-95 mph, with a potential plus changeup at 85-89 mph and average curveball at 77-81 mph. His changeup is a potential weapon and could develop into a plus-to-better pitch given he already shows advanced feel for it and has a lot of confidence in it. He has a very good chance to remain a starter and has already shown solid strike-throwing ability. Ramirez was on the younger side of the arms in camp but is remarkably polished for his age and gives the Red Sox someone to dream on as a back-end starter with a chance for more given his youth and constantly improving stuff. 

- While Ramirez showed advanced feel and polish, right-hander Brayan Bello showed some of the best raw stuff at Instructs. The 21-year-old Dominican topped out at 98 mph and mostly worked 94-97 mph. His changeup was his best secondary pitch, flashing arm-side fade at 84-87 mph. Bello also showed off a slider at 84-88 mph that is a work in progress. The shape of the pitch varied and he struggled to consistently snap it off. Developing that pitch was clearly something he was focusing on, as scouts noted he used it a lot more than you would expect in some outings. Bello’s fastball-changeup combination and strike-throwing ability provide him with a solid floor as a reliever, and if he can improve his slider, he still has a chance to develop into a starting pitcher. 

- After signing for $750,001 in October 2019, 21-year-old Taiwanese right-hander Chih-Jung Liu had to wait a full year to make his “debut,” and it seems the long layoff impacted him. Reports after he signed had him throwing in the mid-90s and topping out at 97-98 mph in Taiwan. At Instructs, however, he did not show that kind of velocity, sitting 89-92 mph and topping out at 93 mph. Liu showed off a variety of pitches, six total, including two variations of a fastball, two breaking balls, a changeup, and a splitter. Scouts thought the changeup and splitter were decent, but both came in in the same velocity band of 80-84 mph. His breaking balls were not sharp, with his slider in the 82-85 range and curve in the low-80s. Scouts did note he showed some feel, but his development will likely be slow and he is years away from being able to contribute. 

- 17-year-old right-hander Nathanael Cruz was one of the youngest arms at the Fall Instructional League, and while he showed intriguing raw stuff, he’s got a long way to go developmentally. The young Dominican has a very projectable frame and ran his fastball up to 94-95 mph. He could not hold that velocity, however, and primarily worked 91-93 mph. He did show some feel for both his curveball at 76-80 mph and changeup at 86-87 mph. His changeup could develop into his best pitch, as it plays well with his shorter arm action. As a first look, this was an encouraging stateside debut for Cruz, but his development will likely be slow, and he has a long way to go to reach his potential. 

- Following the 2019 DSL season, we were told that 18-year-old Venezuelan right-hander Wilkelman Gonzalez one of the more intriguing pitching prospects at the Dominican Academy. At Instructs, he showed off a good arm and intriguing raw ingredients, though he also has got a ways to go developmentally. Gonzalez’s fastball hit 95 mph with varying movement, and while he didn’t always know where it was going, on the rare times he located it, it showed the ability to miss bats in the zone. Gonzalez also showed some ability to spin a breaking ball, but he was very inconsistent with the pitch. He also mixed in a changeup, but that again has a ways to go as well. 

- 19-year-old Dominican right-hander Juan Daniel Encarnacion was the only player on the Instructional League roster I had no prior information on. He is on the skinny side and has some projection in his frame, but his stuff is fringy right now. His fastball worked 88-91 mph, topping out at 92, and he complimented that with a fringy changeup and slurvy breaking ball that flashed some potential on occasion. 

- Right-hander Gabriel Jackson received the largest bonus the Red Sox gave out to any pitcher in the 2018-2019 international class at $350,000. This was the 18-year-old Dominican’s stateside debut, and he sat 91-93 mph, topping out at 94. His fastball was extremely heavy and he was very good at getting groundballs, but he lacked feel for his slider and changeup. His slider flashed more potential, but both need a lot of work.   

- Right-hander Osvaldo De La Rosa only threw live batting practices, and his velocity was noticeably down from where it was when I saw him in 2019. With Lowell in 2019, the 23-year-old Dominican was up to 95 mph, but at Instructs, he topped out at 92 mph with a slider at 82-85 mph and changeup at 86-88 mph.

Photo Credit: Aldo Ramirez and Chih-Jung Liu by Kelly O'Connor.

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.