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October 5, 2021 at 2:00 PM

2021 SoxProspects.com All-Stars: Pitchers

We continue our SoxProspects.com Awards season with the 2021 All-Star pitching staff. This years list includes a former first-round pick, an out-of-nowhere 2019 draftee, and a 22-year-old righty who was an early-season sensation.

Follow along with us all week: 
Tuesday: All-Star pitchers
Wednesday: Graduate of the Year; Homegrown Player of the Year; Ex-Prospect of the Year
Thursday: Rookie of the Year; Breakout Player of the Year; Comeback Player of the Year
Friday: Player of the Year; Pitcher of the Year

Starting Pitcher: Brayan Bello
Coming out of the lost 2020 season, there were pitchers all over baseball who had seen notable improvement in their stuff, and Bello was someone who got a lot of attention in early 2021. He was a sensation on his way to getting the May SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Month as he struck out 30 batters and posted a .192 opposing batting average. He finished the season with a 3.87 ERA, 132 strikeouts, and only 31 walks in 95 1/3 innings split between Salem and Portland. He was noted by Baseball America as one of the 10 players who most raised their stock in 2021 and at #6 is the top-ranked pitcher in the system.


Starting Pitcher: Brandon Walter
Walter, a 26th-round pick out of the University of Delaware, began the season as an unranked 24-year-old relief pitcher in Low-A Salem, and finished up the hottest pitcher in the system. With a three-pitch mix and a fastball that touched 95, Walter was clearly above his class at Salem, throwing 31 innings across 13 appearances, striking out 46 batters against just six walks on his way to a 1.45 ERA and 0.871 WHIP. Working exclusively as a starter after an early-July promotion, he posted a 3.70 ERA with continued exception peripherals, striking out 86 and walking just 14 in 58 1/3 innings.


Starting Pitcher: Kutter Crawford
There is no good time to need Tommy John surgery, but the timing of Kutter Crawford's was probably as well-timed as one could be. After getting UCL surgery in October 2019, Crawford was joined by the rest of minor league baseball in missing the 2020 season. While returns from Tommy John are uncertain, Crawford arrived in Portland with even better control than ever, walking just five batters against 64 strikeouts while posting a 3.30 ERA in 10 starts. His ERA jumped to 5.21 after a promotion to Worcester but he continued to miss bats, striking out 67 and walking just 15 in 48 1/3 innings. Crawford is the only player this year who has previously been a SoxProspect.com All-Star, having been honored back in his breakout 2018 season.


Starting Pitcher: Jay Groome
Unlike the other three hurlers on this list, the 2016 first-round pick did not come out of the gates on fire. After three starts, Groome's ERA was an unsightly 14.73 with High-A East opponents knocking him around to the tune of a .405/.500/.730 slash line. With that for context, Groome's season-ending 4.81 ERA looks quite a bit better. The big left-hander posted an even 4.00 ERA from that point on, allowing just a .221 batting average and leading the system with 134 strikeouts. His season peaked with his promotion to Portland in September, as he introduced himself to Double-A by allowing just four hits in 11 scoreless innings while striking out 19 in his first two starts.


Relief Pitcher: Devon Roedahl
Selected the round after Brandon Walter in the 2019 draft, Roedahl joined him in the Salem bullpen. Though he remained in the 'pen throughout the season, the former Houston Cougar was one of the organization's most consistent performers. He allowed a 2.52 ERA in 60 1/3 innings across 37 appearances, striking out 62 and walking only 12. He posted 11 saves but was not used in a traditional closer role, going at least two innings in 19 of his appearances.


Relief Pitcher: Zack Kelly
Signed as a minor league free agent in January, Kelly was dominant out of both the Portland and Worcester bullpens. Signing with Oakland for just a $500 bonus back in 2017, Kelly had been released by both the A's and Dodgers, signing with the Red Sox after undergoing elbow surgery in 2019. He made 36 appearances between the two levels, posting a 2.18 ERA, striking out 69, and walking 18. Kelly struck out 38.7% of the batters he faced at Worcester while maintaining an impressive 51.9% ground ball rate. 


Relief Pitcher: Casey Cobb
Cobb, one of several undrafted free agents singed by Boston following the truncated 2020 draft, found himself atop several major pitching categories. Splitting his season between Salem and Greenville, Cobb led all pitchers organization with over 50 inning in ERA (1.95), opponent batting average (.198), and WHIP (0.923). In 73 2/3 innings, the Alabama Crimson Tide product struck out 82 while walking just 16, and he went until August 11 before he allowed runs in consecutive appearances. 

Photo Credit: Brandon Walter by Bryan Green; Casey Cobb by SoxProspects, LLC; All others by Kelly O'Connor