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May 22, 2012 at 12:45 PM

The Book: Anthony Ranaudo

Date: May 21, 2012
Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Line: 4.2 innings, 3 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts, 88 pitches

Fastball: It was a tale of two fastballs for Ranaudo in this outing. In the early innings, it was sitting 91-92 mph and he was fluidly finishing his delivery to command the offering to both sides of the plate. Ranaudo was clean and smooth with his landing to keep his release point consistent when throwing the heater. He spotted the ball down, while picking a few spots to try to elevate past hitters and reach back for a little extra. Ranaudo threw two particularly strong fastballs in his last sequence to close out the second inning. First painting the outside corner at 92 mph with some downward finish, he came back two pitches later to blow a 93 mph fastball past the batter for a swinging strikeout. It was a lively one from Ranaudo and also one he failed to duplicate the rest of the outing. Laboring through a 24-pitch third inning, he threw 12 heaters in the inning with little control due to his delivery coming unglued. As his release point became inconsistent due to his shoulder flying open, forcing him to land stiffly off center, he could not throw the pitch for a strike and only picked up one called strike with it. His velocity began to fall off towards the end of the frame and dipped down to 88-91 mph before his exit in the fifth inning. Although he began focusing on throwing his 88-90 mph two-seamer to try to get more efficient and generate late movement, the strain of the third inning had taken its toll on the pitch and left it flat.

Secondary Offerings: Ranaudo came out of the gate with a very tight and crisp curveball. Clocking in at 78-82 mph, it showed solid bite and teeth as it broke deeply through the strike zone. Ranaudo was very comfortable throwing the pitch at any point in sequences and early on commanded it extremely well to throw for strikes. Opposing batters during this portion of his outing were straightened up by the break. He flashed his best curve of the night to close out the first inning. Finishing balanced through the pitch, he snapped off an 82 mph hammer with power break to pick up a swinging strikeout. Ranaudo has a major league curve that can round into a consistent plus offering, but like with his fastball in the third inning the command of the pitch suffered as he opened up early. Although the depth was strong, he could not start it high enough and pulled down too hard to finish the pitch at the shoe tops. Ranaudo also sprinkled in a 79-83 mph changeup. This pitch currently lags behind the other offerings and was below-average during the outing. He slows both his body and arm down when throwing it, leaving the change a flat pitch with little depth. He did throw one good one at 82 mph for a swinging strike, but the rest floated to the plate and he was hurt by a very flat one that was crushed for a double deep into the right-center field gap. The pitch needs work to consistently keep opposing hitters off-balance, mostly in the form of learning to sync his arm-speed to that of his fastball.

Take: Ranaudo clearly was not at his best last night, which showed in both his pitching line and my view of his stuff. Just when he looked to be getting loose and feeling his arsenal to close out the second inning, it quickly fell apart for him in the third inning. The root cause was the inconsistency with his delivery, mainly centered on Ranaudo opening his front shoulder early. As he lost the ability to stay square and finish his delivery, he struggled to create velocity with his fastball as his arm dragged and the control of the offering disappeared. His early, choppy landing forced his fastball high and also diminished the previously strong command he showed with his curve. The physical stress of the long inning also looked to drain his legs and push Ranaudo more into an upper body throwing as he hit the tail end of his start. The rough patch with his delivery is correctable, but also something he is going to have to learn to identify more quickly to prevent outings from unraveling rapidly and the physical drain of laboring diminishing his stuff.

While I could see the quality of Ranaudo’s curveball and that his fastball can be effective when he is clean with his delivery to throw downhill like in the first two innings, the changeup is rough and does not compliment those offerings presently when they are on their game. His change was telegraphed the majority of times he threw it. I saw it as a positive sign that when Ranaudo was fluidly throwing it on one occasion, it showed solid depth, but overall it is a flat pitch. The infrequency in which he utilized it in this outing made it tough to get a good gauge and further scouting opportunities will follow -up on the progress of the pitch. He will not project as a starter without an average-to-better changeup. Tall and a bit on the lanky side, Ranaudo has the physical projection to fill out more into his mid-20s. Although his hips are not quite as wide as you typically see in the ones who develop the real solid trunk to withstand heavy workloads. There is going to be a learning curve at this level as Ranaudo feels out how to better control his body. Based on this outing I saw more of a back-end starter, but feel there is room for growth as he is far from a polished product presently.

Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen