Well, it's draft day and in the spirit of the internet, let's start moving on from an event before it actually takes place. Today, I'm looking at the resurgence of Boston Red Sox pitching prospect, Anthony Ranaudo.
Drafted in the supplemental first round (39th overall) in 2010 by the Boston Red Sox, Ranaudo was an interesting case. You see, Ranaudo had previously established himself as a premier draft prospect and the top overall college prospect for the 2010 draft before coming down with a stress reaction and compiling a bloated 7.32 ERA in limited time. This knocked him down to where the Red Sox were able to select him and offer him first round money ($2.55M) to get him to sign. This practice wouldn't be possible in the draft today (reminder, the draft is tonight!) due to the new spending allotments it's far more likely that a team at the top of the draft that saved money on their first pick would be able to make a selection like this. So maybe the new draft cap isn't so bad? Nah, it still sucks.
Ranaudo has spent two full seasons in the minor leagues, racking up ERAs of 3.97 ('11) and 6.69 ('12) and hits per nine of 8.1 and 9.8 respectively. 2012 was quite clearly his nadir, allowing more than a hit per inning and walking as many as he struck out (27) in 38 innings. Ranaudo has made the journey from nadir to zenith quite quickly however, as 2013 has been a banner year thus far. He's increased the quality of his stuff and it's showing in the results. He's back to striking out more than a batter per inning and is registering a career low in walks per nine at just a hair under three. The biggest step forward though, has come in hits per nine innings. In 2012 he was just a shade under ten, while in 2013 he's a shade under six. That means between the walks and hits, he's allowing 7.5 fewer baserunners per nine innings than he was last year. "Dramatic improvement" might be an understatement.
So how exactly has Ranaudo righted the ship? Well, for one thing, health plays a big role in how Ranaudo is pitching. His results suffered dramatically after the arm injury in college, and 2012 was a disaster as he struggled through a strained groin and shoulder inflammation. When healthy, Ranaudo can run his fastball up to 97 MPH in short bursts, though he'll sit 91-94. The fastball is a major weapon given the speed and movement, as well as the angles he creates with his 6'7 frame. He does well to command the pitch and shows no fear pitching to either side. I've GIFed an example below, but the angle was terrible so I apologize if it's useless. Trenton hitters were behind on the fastball all game.
He compliments the fastball with a hard curve that has progressed since his college days, flashing hard downward bite. Ranaudo had the curve working in this game both dropping it in the zone for strikes and starting it in the zone and letting hitters swing overtop of it. He absolutely overpowered the Trenton lineup with just his fastball and curveball this game.
He did however, show an average change up with life, but can overthrow and leave it up in the zone. In the GIF below you'll see him use it to get a hitter out front on the ball. That pitch was actually the second consecutive change he threw, and it was good to see him have the confidence to double up on the change.
It's become clear that when completely healthy, Ranaudo is a good prospect with the ceiling of a 2/3, showing two potential plus pitches and a third average one. When he's not healthy, as has been the case in three of the last five years, he's a mess and not someone to rely on. On the one hand, if he's good when he's pitching and on the DL when he's not, that's not necessarily a bad thing from a fantasy standpoint. On the other, if he can't be trusted to give you innings and he's bad in the innings immediately preceding or following an injury, that's going to hurt you. All told, I'm a bit wary of Ranaudo from a health standpoint and would probably trade him if someone thinks that he's finally shed the injury bug. It could come back to haunt you, certainly, but pitching prospects are fickle enough to begin with that the injury issue just makes it not worth the risk for me.