Aug 29, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo (63) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Ranaudo was recently named International League Pitcher of the Year after dominating for the Pawtucket Red Sox behind a filthy 14-4 record and 2.61 ERA. 2014 has been a career year for the 6’7″ hurler, one that has taken some scouts by surprise. In 2009, Ranaudo was a superstar for LSU in the College World Series, and entered the 2010 season as one of the top MLB Draft Prospects. An elbow injury derailed Ranaudo’s season and after failing to replicate the numbers he posted in the year prior, Ranaudo fell all the way to the Red Sox in the Supplemental 1st Round, where they were happy to take the falling star (as has become their tendency with players like Ranaudo, Devin Marrero and Jackie Bradley in recent years).
Despite this seemingly promising return to form, there are still question marks surrounding Ranaudo. This scouting report from the useful SoxProspects.com sheds light on these question marks highlighted by his lack of depth in his pitch repertoire. Ranaudo has a solid fastball, but is propelled by his plus graded, swing and miss curveball that he consistently uses to send hitters stomping back to the dugout. But he will need to develop a third offering to succeed in Boston.
While Ranaudo has certainly given scouts reason to consider re-evaluating their original reports, his change-up continues to stand as a fringe-average offering that is still too inconsistent from start to start. An effective change-up can be a powerful weapon for a Major League starter, but another option for the righty is to expand on his fastball – if he can learn to integrate a 2-seam, cut or sinking fastball, he may be able to make it. He has survived thus far in August behind a 3-0 record, but his 4.50 ERA and 1.38 WHIP are concerning and more concerning are his advanced stats; he currently owns an 89 ERA+ (100 is league average), and 6.57 FIP (suggesting that most of his outs are being recorded by balls in play).
For next year, Ranaudo is in my mind right behind Webster in the pecking order. I think it will depend on how the offseason goes but he could be in line for the fifth rotation spot. If I had to take an educated guess, the Red Sox will add twofront line starters this winter and the five spot will be given to Webster, but Ranaudo could see time as a long man out of the bullpen if the team decides his time is best spent with Boston, with a role similar to Brandon Workman’s last year where he becomes the next man up following an injury. Among the players who will keep Clay Buchholz honest in 2015, Ranaudo tops the list.