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July 12, 2022 at 9:00 AM

Minor Notes: Downs impacts the majors & minors and Bello makes 2nd MLB start

This past week was an exciting one with some high-profile Red Sox prospects making impacts on the major league team. It is also a time of excitement in the prospect world as we prepare for the 2022 MLB Draft, which will kick off this Sunday, July 17, at 7:00 pm with Round 1 and Round 2. Rounds 3-10 will follow on Monday beginning at noon, and Rounds 11-20 will commence on Tuesday.


2022 All-Star Futures Game

MLB announced that two Red Sox prospects have been selected to participate in the 2022 All-Star Futures Game -- outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela and righty Brayan Bello (pictured, right). No team had more than two players selected.

Bello makes second major league start

Making his second major league start on Monday night, Bello again struggled early in the game, giving up two runs in the first inning and three in the second inning with three of those runs being scored with two outs in the inning. However, he turned it around after that point, throwing two more scoreless innings and buying the Red Sox enough time to tie up the game when he exited after four innings. His final line on the night was four innings pitched, five earned runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

Downs makes a major impact

Jeter Downs did not know he would be called up until after 5pm on Saturday. Once he got to Fenway, manager Alex Cora put him to good use. Downs entered the game in the eighth, pinch running for J.D. Martinez after a double. After a Xander Bogaerts walk, Alex Verdugo singled, bringing Downs around to tie the game at 3. Downs was not done yet. There are few better ways to secure your first major league hit than to plate a run in the bottom of the 10th inning, singling to right, but Downs still was not done for the night. After a groundout moved Downs up to second and Rob Refsnyder to third, Verdugo singled, first bringing in Refsnyder and then scoring Downs who crossed the plate on an impressive head-first slide to score the winning run against the archrival Yankees. 


Red Sox release Hansel Robles
The Red Sox announced on Saturday that they have released right-handed reliever Hansel Robles. Robles was acquired from the Twins in 2021 in exchange for minor league reliver Alex Scherff. He became a free agent this winter before re-signing with the Red Sox. Over 24 2/3 innings this year, he had a 5.84 ERA and 1.58 WHIP with 14 walks and 21 strikeouts.

Kaleb Ort recalled
The 6-foot-4 righty was recalled from Triple-A to join the Red Sox bullpen as a countermove for the release of Robles. Ort has had a strong start to 2022 with a 3.12 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 16 walks and 47 strikeouts over 34 2/3 innings for Worcester. He made his season debut over the weekend against the Yankees, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing only one hit.

Tyler Danish placed on 15-day IL, Michael Feliz selected from Worcester
In a move earlier in the week, Red Sox placed the veteran reliever Feliz on the IL with a right forearm strain. Danish had an ERA just over 4 but had only allowed 34 baserunners on 31 1/3 innings. His replacement comes in the form of 29-year-old Feliz who was quickly forced into game action on Friday, entering the game in the third inning and allowing one earned run over 3 1/3 innings while giving up a hit and two walks and striking out four.

Key Links

In the latest update to the Baseball America list, we saw some movement among Red Sox prospects and one new addition. Fresh off his Futures All-Star Team announcement, Ceddanne Rafaela entered the list, ranked 84th. While he might only rank eighth on the SoxProspects.com rankings, there is no doubt he has had an impressive 2022, hitting .314/.354/.587 split between Greenville and Portland. The rankings saw Marcelo Meyer and Bello move up as well, while Triston Casas and Nick Yorke dipped in the rankings. 

The SoxProspects.com podcast crew wasted no time in putting out episode #252 talking about third-ranked prospect Brayan Bello, including what to expect from him in his first start against the Rays and the rest of the season. 


Players of the Week

Jeter Downs, SS, Worcester Red Sox

4 G, 15 AB, 7 H, 1 2B, 3 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, 3 SB, .467/.500/.1.133

As mentioned above, the 23-year-old Downs (pictured, left) capped off a tremendous week by being recalled by the Red Sox with Christian Arroyo heading to the IL. He entered the game in the eighth inning on Saturday and the sixth inning on Sunday and managed to secure his first MLB hit, run, and RBI, finishing the week 1 for 2 with two runs scored and two RBI. Before his recall, he was really on a tear, hitting a home run in games three straight games on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

It has been a bit of an up and down year for the shortstop. While his OPS has risen to .812, he is still only hitting .217 while striking out in 28% of his plate appearances. After hitting 14 home runs last year between two levels, Downs is already up to 16 this year, continuing to show that if he can make enough contact, he has the potential for a nice power-speed combo. This week was an intriguing look into that potential, but until he can show this type of performance more regularly, he will continue to sit outside the top 20 in the SoxProspects.com rankings.

Brian Van Belle, RHP, Portland Sea Dogs
2 G, 2-0, 13 IP, 0.69 ERA, 8 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 11 K

The Portland rotation has seen a lot of movement with Brayan Bello, Brandon Walter, and Chris Murphy all promoted earlier this season, leaving a sizable gap in the rotation. In turn, Van Belle moved up from Greenville to fill the need despite struggles to start the year, posting a 6.14 ERA and 1.55 WHIP at High-A. His first three turns in the rotation were more of the same, allowing three earned runs over five innings in each.

However, this week Van Belle had one of the best weeks of his professional career. On Monday, he threw six innings, only allowing one run on five hits with the lone run coming on a sacrifice fly. On Sunday, he bettered that performance throwing seven shutout innings on three hits and five strikeouts. He was efficient as well, not issuing a walk and needing 76 pitchers or less in both starts. After signing as an undrafted senior in 2020, Van Belle has the fastball command and changeup to show some upside and this was a week showing just that.

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello and Jeter Downs by Kelly O'Connor 

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