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July 21, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Scouting Scratch: Brayan Bello, Jose Adames and Zack Kelly

Over the past few weeks, I have traveled to see Portland and Worcester in person. This is the first of several scouting notebooks breaking down what I’m seeing and hearing about Red Sox prospects, starting with the Portland pitchers.

Right-handed pitcher Brayan Bello is one of the Red Sox prospects whose stock has risen the most this season. Coming out of Fall Instructs, we reported that Bello was showing some of the best raw stuff of any pitcher that threw there. He has continued his ascension, building upon that impressive look, with raw stuff that has ticked up even more this year. In a recent start, Bello sat 95-97 mph and flashed a plus changeup and above-average slider. Even though he is not the biggest pitcher, he generates easy velocity. He is a good athlete with a lightning-quick arm that is so fast it can easily get out of sync with the rest of his delivery. His changeup is the more advanced of his two secondary pitches, working in the 85-88 mph range with late, diving movement. He can really pull the string on it and throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. It is a potential plus pitch, one that could miss bats at the highest level. His slider lags behind some, but still has improved to the point where it will flash at least above-average potential. He throws it in the mid-80s with the pitch showing two-plane movement and solid depth. Bello has many of the ingredients teams look for in a starting pitching prospect. He has the potential for three at least average pitches, with one of his secondaries already looking like a major league-quality out pitch. His stock is on the rise both within the SoxProspects ranks and nationally. We currently have him as the third-ranked pitching prospect in the system, but he is pushing to move higher on that list. As several industry sources have asked me, “are we sure Bello isn’t the top pitching prospect in the system already?”

One of the more intriguing stories in the Red Sox farm system has been the rise, seemingly out of nowhere, in right-hander Jose Adames. Adames was signed this past January as a minor league free agent. The 28-year-old pitched briefly in the Dominican Republic this past winter, throwing 2 2/3 innings. He only threw 3 2/3 innings in 2019 while with the Reds after missing all of 2017 and 2018 due to a pair of Tommy John surgeries, one in September 2016 and one in June 2018. His last substantial workload was in 2016 with Miami, when he threw 48 innings. This season, with Portland and Worcester, Adames has been dominant. In 23 1/3 innings, he has a 1.93 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with 31 strikeouts and only 10 walks. He has allowed only one home run and opponents are hitting .167/.284/.244 against him. Adames is a true one-inning reliever, but has the raw stuff to potentially make it up to the big leagues at some point. His fastball sat 97-99 mph when I saw him recently, and his slider flashed plus potential in the mid-80s. Even though he is already 28, he had never pitched above High-A coming into the year, so starting him at Double-A made sense even with his age. He has the potential to pitch in the big leagues, as soon as this year, but to reach that level, needs to continue to refine his command and control and, most importantly, stay healthy.

Like Adames, right-hander Zack Kelly was also signed by the Red Sox as a minor league free agent this past January. Kelly had elbow surgery in 2019, but now that he is healthy, he has excelled in the Portland bullpen with a 1.09 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 36 strikeouts and 12 walks in 24 2/3 innings. Kelly has a filled-out frame and throws from a three-quarters arm slot with deception and effort in his delivery. He showed four pitches when I saw him recently: a fastball, cutter, changeup and slider. His fastball sat 93-95 mph, but his control needs work, as he is currently walking 11.8 percent of hitters. Of his secondary pitches, his change and cutter showed the most potential.

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello and Jose Adames by Kelly O'Connor.

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