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June 10, 2022 at 12:30 PM

Scouting Scratch: Breaking down Brayan Bello

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a chance to see all of the ranked members of the Worcester and Portland rotations, save for Connor Seabold given he has been on the injured list. Here's my break down of the top pitching prospect in the system, right-hander Brayan Bello. 

23-year-old right-hander Brayan Bello has been one of the most impressive pitchers in the minor leagues this year, rising recently to number 49 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list, and he recently earned a promotion to Worcester, putting him on the brink of the big leagues. In 56 innings, he has allowed only 35 hits and 15 earned runs, while striking out 76 and walking only 21. He has three starts with 10 strikeouts and a seven-inning no-hitter on his ledger already, and his swinging strike rate of 18.3% is 19th in all of minor league baseball of pitchers with at least 30 innings. 

Bello has an average frame and has filled out considerably since he signed. He now has a well-proportioned frame and sturdy lower half, but has maintained his athleticism and does a good job repeating his delivery. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot and has a very quick arm. His fastball has sat 95-97 both times I’ve seen him this year), topping out at 98. He generates easy velocity and can hold it, still hitting 97 in the fifth and sixth innings of recent outings. Bello will show both four-seam and two-seam variations, with the four-seam in the upper portion of that velocity range and two-seam coming in at 95-96 mph usually. The four-seam fastball is on the straight side and will show some bat-missing ability when he commands it up in the zone. His two-seam shows hard, late sink down and in on a right-handed hitter and is a pitch he really has made strides with this year.  

Bello’s fastball command is still a work in progress, but it was much better in his Worcester debut than when I saw him in Portland a few weeks earlier. In that Worcester start, he could consistently locate it arm-side and down in the zone, and he got several swinging strikes and strikeouts with it in that spot. Overall, he got 10 swinging strikes with his fastball that night, compared to two in the Portland start. In the future, I can envision Bello getting to average fastball command. Bello’s two-seam is a good change-of-pace pitch and with the amount of movement it showed in his Worcester debut, it has a chance to be a legit bat-missing pitch against right-handed hitters. With the amount of movement it has, even if the hitter makes contact, the odds are it will be weak. 

Bello’s secondary pitches might be better than his fastball, with both flashing bat-missing ability. His changeup is more advanced at this point, flashing plus potential at 87-90 mph. When at its best, he throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball and it comes in on the same plane before fading down and away from a left-handed hitter’s barrel. He primarily uses the pitch against left-handed hitters, but he will also throw right-right changeups on occasion. His command of the pitch does waver at times, and gaining improved consistency with that pitch is going to be key for him to reach his potential. 

Bello’s slider lags a little behind his changeup right now, but it still will flash above-average potential and will function as his most consistent secondary in some outings. That was the case for the first few innings of his Triple-A debut, as he relied on it heavily both as a pitch to get ahead early in the count and as a pitch to try and put hitters away. He throws it 83-86 mph and will manipulate the shape, with some more vertical and others coming in with more tilt. 

Bello has made significant strides every year since he entered the system, and after the step forward he has made this year, he is now unquestionably the organization’s top pitching prospect. He has four pitches and multiple ways to miss bats both inside and outside the strike zone. He also is doing a great job keeping the ball on the ground and generating a lot of weak contact with a 62.6% groundball rate which is 11th in the minor leagues (min. 30 IP). Some patterns emerged with his pitch usage that could translate well into the major leagues. Against right-handed hitters, he threw a lot of two-seam fastballs down and in and complimented that with sliders away. Against lefties, on the other hand, he threw more four-seam fastballs up in the zone and changeups down, while mixing in an occasional slider. He now has multiple weapons to get hitters out from both sides of the plate. He also has made enough improvement with his delivery to the point where I think he can start long-term, especially as he’s shown he can hold his velocity even after 90+ pitches. The keys for him to reach his potential are improved fastball command and consistency with his secondaries. If he continues to progress in those areas, he has the chance to develop into at least a mid-rotation starter. 

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello by Kelly O'Connor.

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