November 4, 2014 at 7:30 AM
Past entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.
#9: Anthony Ranaudo, SP
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 138 IP, 14-4, 2.61 ERA, 112 H, 45 R/40 ER, 54 BB, 111 K, 1.20 WHIP (minors)
39 1/3 IP, 4-3, 4.81 ERA, 39 H, 21 R/21 ER, 16 BB, 15 K, 1.40 WHIP (majors)
Season in Review: Following an impressive 2013 campaign that saw Ranaudo have his best season as a professional, the 6-foot-7 right-hander looked to continue his resurgence in his first full season in Triple-A. Ranaudo posted inconsistent results from start-to-start to begin the year. In his first twelve starts, he averaged more than 7.5 hits and more than 5 walks per nine innings, although he was still able to hold opponents scoreless in four of those outings. But shortly after the calendar turned to June, things clicked for Ranaudo. In nine starts from June 6 through the end of July, he allowed just 10 runs on 34 hits and 13 walks in 55 1/3 innings, striking out 42. He was named the SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Month for June, and was named to the International League All-Star team.
After the Red Sox traded away a significant part of their starting rotation at the trade deadline, Ranaudo was tabbed to make his major league debut on August 1 against the New York Yankees. The 24-year-old Ranaudo handled the challenge with poise, winning his first major league start with six strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks, although in a bit of foreshadowing, he did give up a home run and only struck out two. From there, he alternated starts between Pawtucket and Boston for the entire month of August, eventually getting the call for good in September (after a paper move to Greenville) after rosters expanded. Although his work in Triple-A earlier in the year earned him the nod as the International League’s Pitcher of the Year, having led the league in wins and ERA while finishing third in WHIP, in August and September Ranaudo's weaknesses were exposed across both levels. In ten starts—seven in the majors and three in Triple-A—he allowed 13 home runs in 58 innings and struck out only 27 batters. Although the 63 hits and 21 walks he allowed in that span were not pretty numbers either, his proclivity to give up home runs and inability to miss bats were the lasting impression left on many over the final stretch, making rediscovering the success he found earlier in the year a priority entering next season. - John Gray/Chris Hatfield
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Listed at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, Ranaudo has the ideal pitcher's frame. The right-hander displays a three-pitch mix—entering the year at least—with his fastball/curveball/changeup combination. The fastball ranges from 89-94 mph and grades about average. The pitch is fairly straight, and he has struggled with his command and locating it down in the zone. His best offering is a true 12-to-6 curveball at 75-78 mph that grades above-average and can be a true out pitch. He has the ability to both command the curveball for strikes within the zone and bury it in the dirt when he needs to. The changeup is fringe-average pitch at 81-84 mph and is a serviceable third offering. It is also worth noting that Ranaudo began incorporating a slider towards the end of 2014. He only threw it rarely, and it was ineffective for the most part, grading fringe-average at best.
When Ranaudo struggles, it is when he is struggling to get over his front side, and thus leaving everything up in the strike zone. He made a slight mechanical adjustment in the second half to his wind-up, allowing him to stay more in-line towards the plate and mimic his delivery from the stretch. Ranaudo needs to improve the command of his fastball and improve either the changeup or slider to become a more servicable third pitch to reach his potential to stick in the rotation as a projected middle-to-back end starter. Otherwise, he may be best suited for the bullpen, where his fastball velocity can play up and he can better get away with a lack of third or fourth pitch. After getting seven starts in the majors this season, Ranaudo should compete in spring training for a spot in the major league rotation, but he will most likely end up back in Pawtucket. Still only 25 years old with two options remaining, Ranaudo should still be given every chance to continue to develop as a potential starter at this point. - Chaz Fiorino
Additional editorial support provided by Jonathan Singer.
Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor