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October 21, 2022 at 1:53 PM

Brayan Bello: 2022 SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year

This concludes Awards Week here at SoxProspects.com. Over the past several day, we have recognized All-Star pitchers and position players, as well as Graduate, Homegrown, Ex-Prospect, Rookie, Comeback, and Breakout Players of the Year. Earlier today we announced the Player of the Year, and the week concludes with the Pitcher of the Year. 

Pitcher of the Year

Bryan Bello (pictured) earns the honor after a huge breakout season that ended with him having lots of success at the MLB level for the Red Sox. He was also named the Graduate of the Year. Bello entered the season ranked fifth overall here at SoxProspects.com, and he was the highest-ranked pitcher. Bello did nothing but live up to that, coming right out of the gate with five shutout innings and 10 strikeouts for the Sea Dogs. It only took six starts in Portland for him to be called up to Worcester. In those six starts, Bello posted a dominant 1.69 ERA across 37 1/3 innings with 48 strikeouts, 12 walks, and a 0.804 WHIP. 

Bello made an immediate splash in his first Triple-A action, as he punched out 10 hitters in back-to-back games to open up his Worcester career. He went six innings in each of those first two starts and only allowed nine hits and four walks. After a terrific month of June that saw Bello strike out 38 hitters in 29 innings to go along with a 3.10 ERA, it was time for a call to the big leagues. Some crucial injuries to Boston's starting rotation combined with Bello's dominance at the minor league level made for a great opportunity for the 23-year old right-hander. 

The impressive strikeout numbers in the minor leagues for Bello weren't the only thing that jumped out. His incredibly high ground ball rates were reason enough to get excited about Bello helping out at the major league level. He posted a 63% ground ball rate with 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings at Double-A before posting a 61% ground ball rate with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings at Triple-A.

Bello got off to a bit of a slow start in Boston due to a few too many walks as well as some terrible luck on ground balls. In his first seven appearances, he posted a 7.27 ERA with 15 walks and 24 strikeouts in 26 innings. That ERA was super inflated due to a ridiculous .448 BABIP. He did not allow a home run in those first seven outings, and his 3.23 FIP indicated that things would improve drastically. And sure enough, they did. 

In Bello's final six starts of 2022, he notched a 2.59 ERA over 31 1/3 frames. He also had a terrific 31 stakeouts to just 12 walks in that span. The low ERA is even more impressive considering his BABIP was still very high at .365.

Overall, Bello tossed 57 1/3 innings with Boston and had 55 strikeouts. Also, among 347 MLB pitchers to throw at least 50 innings in 2022, Bello had the 19th-best ground ball rate at 55.7%. The combination of keeping the ball on the ground a lot while also striking out nearly a hitter per inning helped Bello surrender only one home run. His 0.16 home runs allowed per nine innings was the 3rd-lowest mark among those 347 pitchers (per Fangraphs).

With what Bello did in Boston, he is sure to open up the 2023 season as a member of the rotation and a is going to be a big part of what the Red Sox want to do next year to turn things around. With his fastball in the upper 90s to go along with a wicked changeup, Bello is going to be a lot of fun to watch next spring and summer at Fenway.

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello by Kelly O'Connor