BOSTON -- There will be electricity in the air at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, when Brayan Bello, the best starting pitching prospect the Red Sox have had in recent memory, will make his Major League debut against the Rays.
Bello will fill in for veteran Rich Hill, who was placed on the injured list on July 2 with a sprained left knee. To make room on the roster for Bello, reliever Hansel Robles was designated for assignment.
Bello is the No. 3 prospect in the Red Sox’s farm system and top-ranked pitcher, according to MLB Pipeline. Bello got comfortable in his surroundings at Fenway on Tuesday.
“I don't get too nervous, but I'm really happy to get the opportunity to make my MLB debut here at Fenway in front of all the fans,” Bello said. “I've been working really hard for this moment to be here. I'm excited. I'm just ready to go.”
The 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic has tremendous repertoire, including a fastball that has been clocked as high as 99 mph to go along with a changeup and slider.
“Everybody has seen the development,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Everybody is excited. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out there and perform. I know [Wednesday]'s going to be a great day not only for him, but I think for the whole organization, player development, and everybody that has been involved in this from the Dominican all the way to [Wednesday].”
After going 4-2 with a 1.60 ERA in six starts for Double-A Portland to open the season, Bello was promoted to Triple-A and made his first start there on May 18.
In nine outings for the WooSox, Bello is 6-2 with a 2.81 ERA. Over 51 1/3 innings, Bello has 21 walks and 72 strikeouts while holding the opposition to a .209 average.
Bello has received advice from a lot of people about what it takes to succeed at the highest level, including Hall of Famer and Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez.
“He just told me nothing changes, that it’s the same baseball that I’ve been playing from High-A all the way to the big leagues,” Bello said. “So don’t change anything. It’s the same distance from the mound to home plate, same batter, same baseball.”
The Red Sox signed Bello as an international free agent on July 2, 2017.
“That point seems like a long way to go from just signing to being on the Major League roster,” Bello said. “But I just closed my eyes and worked really hard, and here I am. I'm really happy for this moment.”
Bello will make his debut at a time the Red Sox are depleted by injuries to the rotation.
Hill, Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock are all on the injured list.
Chris Sale, coming off a stress fracture in his right rib cage, made what could be his final Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday (stream for free on MLB.TV) at the same time Bello made his debut at Fenway. Michael Wacha missed Monday’s start with “dead arm,” but there’s a chance he could return on Friday night against the Yankees.
Through all the injuries, the 45-35 Red Sox have found a way to piece together solid starting pitching with help from the farm system. Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford and Connor Seabold are all prospects who have provided contributions of late.
And now, Bello gets his turn. Cora declined to say whether Bello’s first stint in the Majors will be a one-time deal. Part of that could depend on the health of others in the rotation.
“I think those conversations, we'll keep it for us. But I think everybody understands where we're at, and what's going to happen in the future,” Cora said. “So it's more about, just go out there and compete, have fun, and then we'll see what happens in the future.”