Purely for the sake of perspective, let me tell you this: Pedro Martinez doesn’t answer my texts most times. During and after Martinez’ playing career, my relationship with him has always been good. Occasionally, I’ll drop him a quick note with a comment or a question – and he’ll reply if he feels like it.
Yesterday, at 1:36 p.m., I sent Martinez the following text:
You have a quick second to tell me about Brayan Bello?
At 5:58 p.m., he replied with two short messages.
Super unique set of talent and heart. (Heart emoji ❤️)
And the most important one. Brain. (Brain emoji 🧠)
That was it.
So why am I telling you this? Because Brayan Bello will make his major league debut for the Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park against the Tampa Bay Rays and because the Red Sox haven’t had a pitching prospect with this kind of hype in a long time. Bello is 23. He’s right-handed. He throws in the mid-to-high 90s with a changeup (that Pedro worked on with him) and a slider. The stuff is legit. The numbers are eye-opening.
In 15 combined outings (14 starts) this year at Double-A and Triple-A, Bello is 10-4 with a 2.33 ERA in 85 innings. He has 114 strikeouts (an average 12.1 per nine innings) and 33 walks (3.5 per nine). He has allowed just 55 hits. He’s 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds – tall and thin, a little like Pedro’s older brother, Ramon – and he is still on the raw side. But there’s a lot there to like.
Now I’ll tell you what really makes him different for me.
Look, we all know the reality here. Most prospects get overhyped. But something about Bello feels different. And knowing Pedro Martinez like we do, well, he’s not about to describe someone as super unique just for the hell of it. He’s liked young pitchers before. But the way he answered about Bello tells me that Pedro thinks there’s a real chance that Bello could be for real, no matter what happens on the mound tonight.
So what is the plan for Bello this year? Good question. He’s never pitched more than 117.2 innings in any season. It’s unlikely the Red Sox intend to drop him into their rotation now, for good, and ride him into September or October. But what is possible is a baptismal appearance at Fenway tonight followed by a role in the Red Sox bullpen come August, September or beyond.
Could Bello be a bust? Of course. There’s always that chance with most any player. But if Pedro Martinez is signing the young man’s birth certificate, I’m all ears.
And tonight – like you should be – I’ll be all eyes, too.