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SoxProspects News

June 22, 2021 at 6:30 AM

Minor Notes: Bello dominates at Double-A & Leiter linked to Red Sox

 Here are this week's minor league notes:

  • The SoxProspects.com Podcast team got together on Wednesday for Episode #213 where they went through the farm system and discussed, amongst other things, Brayan Bello's (pictured, right) recent promotion to Double-A Portland. That topic seemed especially relevant after his start on Friday. More on that later.

  • Over at The Athletic, Jenn McCaffrey did a Q&A and, unsurprisingly, many of the questions were focused on third-ranked prospect, outfielder Jarren Duran, and when he may get the call-up. McCaffrey agrees with most that he is expected to get called up at some point and has some notes on how the timing could impact his ability to play with Team USA in the upcoming Olympic Games.

  • Duran had another superb week, hitting two more home runs with a 1.141 OPS and lifting his season line to .286/.379/.627 all while being almost three years younger than league average. As Executive Editor Chris Hatfield points out on Twitter, Duran has been mostly feast-or-famine with 11 hitless games and 10 games of 2+ hits among his 28 games.
  • Like many prospects, Duran's game has evolved since he turned pro. The largest transition came over the 2019-2020 offseason where he underwent a swing overhaul to add more lift and improve his ability to drive the ball, as the Boston Globe's Alex Speier writes. However, it was odd timing that during the shutdown, a player was able to make these significant changes but that can, at least in part, be attributed to Octavio Duran, Jarren's father, who has a passion for fitness and weight lifting. That swing change has been on full display thus far in the International League in 2021 where Duran currently sits third in home runs and fourth in OPS.

  • This week, centerfielder Eduardo Lopez was assigned to Salem despite having never played in a professional game stateside. His only professional experience came in 60 games in the DSL in 2019 where he hit .255/.372/.363. Despite the lack of experience, the 19-year-old was a highly regarded prospect when he signed as an international free agent, earning a bonus of $1,150,000 in 2018. He is currently ranked 41st in the system and Director of Scouting Ian Cundall had some notes on him back in December during Fall Instructs.

  • The 2021 MLB Draft is quickly approaching with it being held in Denver, Colorado from July 11-13. As it approaches, mock drafts and draft coverage will continue to ramp up. This past week, ESPN's Kiley McDaniel put out his second mock draft and has the Red Sox selecting Jack Leiter, a right-handed pitcher out of Vanderbilt. McDaniel notes that the Red Sox are especially tough to read this year and have been linked to nearly every top player. 

  • MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo also projects Leiter to the Red Sox with the fourth pick in his latest mock from last Wednesday.
  • In the most interesting of the past week's mock drafts, FanGraphs put out a mock that marked the third publication to project Leiter to the Red Sox. But the pick itself wasn't the most interesting part, it was Kevin Goldstein's note that went along with it. Goldstein says, "Word is Leiter is trying to price himself down to Boston and wants to land there. Word is that Boston would love that as well. Thus, a match made in heaven." It is an interesting twist and Kevin Goldstein is likely still well connected in the game after previously serving as the Director of Pro Scouting for the Houston Astros.

  • Some other moves from the past week include outfielder Devlin Granberg's promotion to Portland and reliever Brandon Brennan's outright assignment to Triple-A Worcester, after being designated for assignment and clearing waivers.

  • The annual SoxProspects.com donation drive opened up last week. All the writers, editors, and other staffers volunteer their time and provide this content for free. Any donation is put towards the running of the site. If you enjoy the content here, please donate what you can, and thank you again for reading!


Players of the Week 6/14-6/20

Tyler Esplin, OF, Greenville
4 G, 16 AB, 9 H, 3 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, .563/.611/.750

Esplin (pictured, left) had the skills that have allowed him to post a .419 OBP on full display this week. In each of the four games this week, the 21-year-old reached base multiple times and had a double in three of the four. After seeing time at all three outfield spots this year, the 6-foot-3, 230 pound Esplin played exclusively in centerfield. 

As June winds down, Esplin has posted nearly identical slash lines in both May and June with OBPs greater than .415 in each. In his last minor league season in 2019, he struggled a bit, posting a .253/.327/.372 slash line with more than twice as many strikeouts as walks split between Greenville and Salem. Back in Greenville (which is now High-A) and still two years younger than league average, Esplin has reduced his strikeout rate to a point where he has almost as many walks (30) as strikeouts (33).

Brayan Bello, RHP, Portland
1 G, 0-0, 5.1 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 K

Bello has been one of the hottest names among Red Sox prospects over the first two months of the season. This was Bello's second start for Portland since getting promoted from Greenville. He was solid in his first start (4 innings, 1 earned run, 2 strikeouts) but he took it to another level on Friday against Binghamton. His 10 strikeouts tied his season-high with 12 called strikes and 13 swinging strikes over his 80 pitches.  His only blemish on the day was a solo home run. 

Now 22 years old, Bello seems like a different pitcher from what we last saw in 2019 when he put up a 5.43 ERA for Greenville. Now, between his six Greenville starts and two Portland starts, he has a 2.20 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while elevating his strikeout rate to 12.5 per nine innings. That impressive performance is backed up by recent scouting reports, and those two factors combined have seen him climb from 24th to start the year to 9th on the SoxProspects.com rankings. 

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello and Tyler Esplin by Kelly O'Connor.

Will Woodward is a Co-Owner and Senior Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.