Anthony Ranaudo Will Make An Impact This Year

anthony ranaudoSeen by scouts as arguably the best pitcher in his draft class, Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo continues to prove scouts that they were right. A disappointing junior year marred by injuries caused him to fall to the supplemental first round. Ranaudo, who wanted to show the Red Sox the pitcher that he truly is, pitched for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League, pitching a total of 29 2/3 scoreless innings. Impressed with his numbers, Boston gave Ranaudo an almost unheard of $2.55 million signing bonus just before the signing deadline. After a few years of ups and downs in the Minor Leagues, Anthony Ranaudo is finally looking like a big league pitcher.
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Ranaudo, who is 24-years-old, picked up where he left off after an impressive 2013 campaign. So far this year the tall righty is impressing Red Sox Nation, especially in his last 10 starts. In those last 10 starts his ERA is a minute 1.74, he has set down 50 men by way of the K while walking only 20, hitters hit just .186 off the New Jersey native all while tossing 62 innings in total. Finally, Ranaudo looks like the pitcher everyone had high hopes for. This is mostly because he is now completely healthy and was not in years past.

On the mound, Ranaudo boasts a hard fastball which sits comfortably in the low-to-mid 90’s. He typically tops out at around 95mph while he has thrown up to 98mph before. His curveball is definitely a plus pitch and typically sits around 80mph give or take a couple. Although his changeup is his weakest pitch, Ranaudo is working hard at improving it.  The command is not all there on his change, but it is around 12mph slower than his fastball, making it somewhat effective. Granted with his massive frame at 6 ft 7, Ranaudo has no problem getting great downward leverage, making him even more dominant as a pitcher.
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The Major League club Boston Red Sox definitely are in the middle of a down year. With Jon Lester and Jake Peavy set to be free agents after this year and with John Lackey threatening retirement, any of those three men could be traded by the trade deadline at the end of the month. In order to fill the void the veterans leave in the rotation, Boston will look to fill them internally. The way Anthony Ranaudo is pitching as of late, expect him to get a shot in the big league rotation at some point this year. Despite other youngsters pitching well, there could be up to three spots in the rotation open and with this being said, the Red Sox would be crazy to not give one of those spots to Ranaudo.

Anthony Ranaudo Could Be Next Up

Anthony Ranaudo

The Red Sox have had a good showing from young pitchers Ruby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman so far this season. There is another young rising pitcher, Anthony Ranaudo, who could be next up. The rotation is full at the moment, but Ranaudo’s performance could force things to get crowded. 

In his last start at Pawtucket, Ranaudo pitched seven good innings allowing two runs on four hits. He fanned six batters and allowed two walks. His previous two starts have been solid going 15 2/3 innings without allowing a run, adding 2 2/3 innings to his scoreless streak on June 20th before allowing a solo homer. That home run was just the fourth he allowed in 83 2/3 innings.

On his 2014 season so far, he has a 7-4 record with a 2.58 ERA pitching in 83.2 innings. He is a right-handed throwing pitcher, towering at 6′ 7″ weighing 230 pounds and just 24 years old. He pitched for LSU  during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons.  He was a part of the College World Series victory for the LSU Tigers in 2009 and was third in NCAA strikeouts. In addition to his minor league career with the Sox, he has pitched twice in the Cape Code Baseball League.

Ranaudo was selected 39th overall in the supplemental first round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He signed with the Sox for a 2.55 million dollar signing bonus just shortly before the signing deadline on August 16, 2010. Coming into the 2014 season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the Red Sox 13th best prospect in the system. The line on Ranaudo is that he throws between 92-95 mph and can top out at 98 mph. He was projecting coming into the season as a middle-to-back-end starter in the majors.

One would think that with the way things are now with the Red Sox influx of pitching, Ranaudo won’t get a shot until at least a September call up at best. Stranger things have happened and don’t rule out a sooner MLB debut for Ranaudo if injuries or lackluster performances occur.

There is too much pitching…… said no one ever.

Why Rubby De La Rosa Gets the Nod in Starting Rotation

Rubby De La Rosa (AP)With Clay Buchholz missing some time due to a hyper-extended knee, Rubby De La Rosa will get the start on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Depending on how that goes, the 25-year-old could see multiple starts with the Boston Red Sox while Buchholz is on the mend.

De La Rosa may be 2-3 on the season, but the 3.04 ERA through 10 starts has really been phenomenal. Plus, 52 strikeouts in 53.1 innings isn’t too shabby either. The youngster has not started in the majors since August 31, 2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers after dealing with Tommy John surgery in 2012 and working his way back in 2013. He did come up as a reliever, but Saturday will be his first start with the Red Sox.

Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo were both options, but Webster got tagged for six earned runs on Sunday and has not been great in the early going of his starts at the major league level. Ranaudo has no major league experience and is still getting used to the Triple-A atmosphere.

Webster will likely be next in line with a solid 3.17 ERA in 59.2 innings of work. The 43 strikeouts compared to 25 walks is of some concern, but the groundball rate has been solid, but the 1.91 GO/AO for De La Rosa is even better.

Everyone wants Henry Owens to be the guy called up as soon as possible, but he needs at least 10 or more starts at Triple-A before he even gets looked at. So, the Red Sox need to promote him from Double-A Portland to Pawtucket in order for him to be considered by management.

De La Rosa is the guy for the time being.

Portland Pitchers Ready for Boston?

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Hadlock Field Portland, ME Photo courtesy of Kara Jackman

I took a trip up to Portland, ME to see the Portland Sea Dogs, double A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. I talked to a few players, enjoyed my first experience in the press box, sharing it with NESN’s Tom Caron, and talking to the future major leaguers.

portland pitchers

NESN’s Tom Caron at Hadlock Field
Photo Courtesy of Kara Jackman

Enough about me. Let’s talk players. Specifically, let’s talk about pitching. There is something in the water in Portland, ME   Following the Portland pitchers since March, I believe the Portland starters and bullpen may be the answer to Boston’s bullpen and starter questions.  These guys are better than the laundry list of pitchers in Pawtucket. I know this is an arguable point, but it seems the writing is on the wall with regard to Portland. Others seem to feel this to be true, too.  Saturday morning, while watching The Baseball Show on the Comcast Sportsnet, a caller suggested that the Sox bring Anthony Ranaudo up from Portland. Then Sunday night Drake Britton provides pretty solid setup man work for Boston. Tonight, Brandon Workman starts against Tampa.

Let’s bring these guys up, work our system, and stop hemming and hawing about getting a closer in time for the July 31st deadline. It just seems these guys are stronger than some of the PawSox guys. I know I am crazy. I fully admit I should be committed, but I think this is the move.  The other Portland pitcher to watch is Matt Barnes. He may need some more time at Pawtucket. He just needs to tweak accuracy and he knows that; he told me as much. Barnes does his homework, charts batters, so he has the mindset and mental fortitude to do it.

Back to my point, let’s work the system. Guys like Cliff Lee, Matt Garza, and Jake Peavy, are a gamble.  I think we should continue to drink the waters in Portland, ME.

Minor League Teams Teem with Talent

 

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I never thought that I would be all that interested in minor league teams. I have gone to games at Pawtucket and loved the atmosphere, so I started there and looked into the A and AA teams as well. The Portland Seadogs, the AA team, have some promising talent yet to get the attention of the folks in Pawtucket and Boston. Others, (see also: Jackie Bradley Jr.) skyrocketed to the top. He is reason enough to take a look at the talent that resides at the farm level. Players like Brandon Workman, who we saw throw a few innings during spring training, are the future of the organization. Anthony Ranaudo is another standout pitcher that will hopefully have a stronger year with the Seadogs than he did last year, as he had some difficulty with injuries.  Scouts say he has a perfect build for the game, and he has a bright season ahead of him this year.

At the AAA level in Pawtucket, players like Drew Sutton and Justin Henry add value with strong fielding and at bats. Henry, with a .300 batting average last year, placed 7th best average in the league. Sutton bounced around with four different clubs last year, but maintained a batting average in the mid .200s.  Where Pawtucket shines is its depth of pitching. Players like Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, and knuckleballer Steven Wright will make this a team to watch. Some of these guys were able to play in Spring Training. I would love to see them come up and play at Fenway during the summer.

So long as these players stay healthy, and stand out where and when they are able, the franchise will be better for it. As a franchise, they need to cultivate these players into major league material. Raw talent can only take you so far, which is what we see with Bradley Jr. as of late, and John Farrell’s concern about him hitting poorly against left-handed pitchers. There are weaknesses to address to make each player a bit more polished. Each player is different, but if trained the Red Sox way, their assets will be accentuated, and utilized for that special skill that brought them to the table in the first place.  Ultimately, the Red Sox have a strong farm system, filled with players ready to be molded.

What other Sox prospects are you looking forward to seeing at the minor league parks this summer?