The Red Sox plan to recall pitching prospect Brandon Walter before tomorrow’s game in Minnesota, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. He’s likely to make his MLB debut, either as the starter or as a bulk pitcher behind an opener. Chris Cotillo of MassLive first reported (on Twitter) this afternoon the Sox were mulling a Walter promotion.
It’s the initial big league call for Walter, who first entered pro ball as a 26th-round pick in 2019. A $35K signee out of the University of Delaware, the 6’2″ southpaw didn’t begin his career with much fanfare. After the 2020 minor league season was canceled, Walter put together a breakout showing between two A-ball levels in 2021. He combined for a 2.92 ERA while striking out over 36% of batters faced thanks to a velocity spike, establishing himself on the prospect radar. He split last season between the top two minor league levels.
Each of Baseball America, Keith Law of the Athletic and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN placed Walter in the 9-11 range among Boston prospects last winter. Evaluators praised a three-pitch arsenal led by a plus or better slider. All three outlets suggested he had some chance to stick at the back of a rotation but noted injury and/or delivery concerns that could point to a future in the bullpen.
The 26-year-old has had a tough few months with Triple-A Worcester to open the season. He’s started 12 of 13 games and allowed a 6.28 ERA over 61 2/3 innings. While Walter’s 22.4% strikeout percentage and 9.1% walk rate aren’t that far from average, a lofty .362 batting average on balls in play has led to an inflated ERA.
Boston will look past that and give Walter at least his first big league look. The Sox have an opening in the rotation after Tanner Houck was struck in the face by a comebacker last Friday. Boston hasn’t announced who’ll join James Paxton, Garrett Whitlock, Brayan Bello and Kutter Crawford in the starting staff over the long haul. Perhaps Walter will get a few opportunities to stake a claim to that job.
The Red Sox added Walter to their 40-man roster last offseason to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft. They’ll only need to clear a spot on the active roster to accommodate his promotion.