Red Sox pitching prospect Angel Bastardo had a performance to remember in his third start of the season for High-A Greenville on Friday night.
Going up against the Greensboro Grasshoppers on the road at First National Bank Field, Bastardo allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks to go along with 11 strikeouts over six solid innings of work in a tough-luck 2-1 losss.
The 11 punchouts represent a career-high for Bastardo, who finished with 84 pitches (58 strikes). The right-hander also induced 27 swings-and-misses while lowering his ERA on the season to 5.93 across 13 2/3 innings with the Drive.
Among 27 qualified South Atlantic League pitchers coming into play on Saturday, Bastardo ranks first in strikeouts per nine innings (13.83), second in strikeout rate (35.5 percent), 11th in batting average against (.212), second in line-drive rate (9.7 percent), first in swinging-strike rate (23.8 percent), and seventh in FIP (3.57), per FanGraphs.
While those numbers are undoubtedly encouraging, Bastardo also ranks 23rd in walks per nine innings (4.61), 21st in walk rate (11.9 percent), and 17th in WHIP (1.32), so there is still room for improvement in different areas, like command and control.
Bastardo, 2o, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 56 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks 23rd among pitchers in the organization. The native Venezuelan originally signed with the Red Sox for just $35,000 as an international free agent coming out of Moron shortly after his 16th birthday in July 2018.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Bastardo throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph and shows sink, an 83-86 mph curveball that varies in shape, and an 84-88 mph changeup that can be inconsistent at times, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.
Considering that he has only pitched at one level per year since debuting in the Dominican Summer League in 2019 and does not turn 21 until June, it seems likely that Bastardo will spend most — if not the entirety — of the 2023 season in Greenville’s starting rotation.
Bastardo can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. With those prior points in mind, though, the Red Sox probably won’t add the righty to their 40-man roster by the November deadline since he is still relatively raw and at least one full season away from garnering any sort of big-league consideration.