Red Sox Lefthander Brandon Walter Enjoys Breakout 2021 Season
In 2019, lefthander Brandon Walter had an undistinguished profile.
The University of Delaware starter was still rebuilding arm strength following Tommy John surgery in 2018. He was throwing mostly in the mid-to-high 80s with less-than-dominant numbers.
Still, Red Sox area scout Reed Gragnani saw several promising qualities, including a projectable 6-foot-3 frame, command and feel for pitching, an above-average changeup as well as what the scout saw as a good cutter.
The cutter was actually a slider without tilt, but overall Walter generated enough whiffs and weak contact to suggest deception. Boston drafted him in the 26th round and signed him for $35,000.
When the 2020 season was canceled, Walter diligently worked out on his own, using the opportunity to improve his strength and conditioning. He velocity steadily improved and the power on his secondary pitches likewise built.
When Walter arrived in spring training in 2021, the 24-year-old was filled with anticipation.
“It was kind of like I had this secret,” Walter said. “I couldn't wait to show everybody.”
He did just that, with a fastball topping out at 94-95 mph along with a quality slider and changeup. Walter opened the year in the Low-A Salem bullpen but dominated so completely that the Red Sox built his workload.
He eventually shifted to the rotation in Salem, followed by a promotion to High-A Greenville.
Walter forged a 2.92 ERA in 89.1 innings at the two levels. Among minor league pitchers who threw at least 80 innings, Walter ranked in the top 10 in strikeout rate (36%) while holding opponents to a .199 average.
Walter's pitch quality matched that of anyone in the Red Sox system in 2021.
Walter, who turned 25 in September, has an atypical prospect profile given his age and the fact that he has yet to pitch in the upper levels. But with a strong likelihood that he opens 2022 in Double-A, he has a chance to solidify the promise he showed in his breakout 2021 season.
— Red Sox area scout Reed Gragnani had heard raves about Brandon Walter prior to his surgery from former Delaware coach Andrew Amaro, the nephew of ex-Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Andrew Amara is also the brother of Gragnani’s college roommate, Rob Amaro.