Much has been made over the past few months about the perceived deficiencies in the starting rotation of the Boston Red Sox. The existing group shouldered the bulk of the blame for the late-season collapse of the 2011 team. Regardless of the truth of such assumptions, help is on the way, primarily in the form of the team’s top pitching prospect, Anthony Ranaudo.
At 6’7 and 230 pounds, the right-handed Ranaudo cuts an imposing figure on the pitching mound. He was a high school star in New Jersey- posting a 21-4 career record and a 1.44 ERA- who was taken in the 11th round of the 2007 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers, but declined to sign in order to take a baseball scholarship with LSU.
Ranaudo played three seasons at LSU, experiencing great triumph that was sandwiched between injuries during his freshman and junior years. In 2009, as a sophomore, he was at his healthiest and showed what a weapon his right arm can be. He went 12-3, with a 3.04 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 124.1 innings; helping LSU to the National Championship title. His performance made his draft stock skyrocket, and even though he suffered through an injury plagued 2010, he was still widely regarded as the best pitcher in that year’s draft.
Although Ranaudo’s injuries made some teams wary going into the 2010 draft, those that did their homework on him knew his potential. The Boston Red Sox decided they couldn’t pass up such talent and landed him with the 39th overall selection in the first round. In the tough American League East, pitching is a precious commodity seen as having the most impact when it comes to the pecking order in the standings. Boston made a big strike in picking up Ranaudo to help shore up their staff in the future.
The Red Sox handled Ranaudo cautiously during his first professional season in 2011. Although he made 26 starts at two different levels, he was on an innings limit, throwing just a total of 127, but pitched very well. He had a 9-6 record, with a 3.97 ERA and 117 strikeouts. More information on his statistics is available here.
With the trade of Casey Kelly prior to the start of the season, Ranaudo is unquestionably the top pitching prospect in the Boston system. Now that he has a full professional season under his belt, he will be under close scrutiny as he gets closer and closer to Boston, which could happen as soon as late 2012 or 2013. You can find Ranaudo out on Twitter at @anthony_ranaudo, and can also find out more about the pitching prospect by checking out the interview he recently did with me.
Anthony Ranaudo Interview:
Who was your favorite team and player growing up and why?: Favorite team was the Yankees, being from New Jersey. I always loved watching Derek Jeter play because of his leadership and because he looked like he was enjoying every minute of every game.
What pitches do you have in your arsenal, and which one do you think you need to improve the most?: I currently throw a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup and curveball. I have to keep throwing my changeup more often and develop more consistency with the pitch.
Can you run through what your 2010 draft experience was like?: Chaotic. It was crazy hearing all kinds of rumors of where I would be drafted, and then after my injury it got really wild, but overall a great experience and something I will always remember.
How has your reception been thus far from the Boston organization and their fans?: So far it has been everything it was hyped up to be and more. I heard a lot about Red Sox Nation and how supportive their fans are. From the day I signed, I received a lot of positive support and excitement from them, and they have been motivating me ever since to get to Fenway as soon as possible.
If you could do anything about the 2011 season differently, what would that be?: I would say just being a little stronger going into the season. It was my first off-season last year and I did not really know what to expect from such a long season. As a result, I think I might have taken things a little too easy as far as weight training and conditioning, trying to pace myself. After a full season of experience, I know I am going to be as prepared as I ever will be for 2012.
How difficult is it to stay grounded when dealing with the reality of being a top MLB prospect from high school, through college, and now to the pros?: Fortunately I was raised by two humble parents who taught that to me at a young age, and growing up I had high goals for myself, so I was never satisfied, and still am not to this day. It’s easy to stay grounded when you have bigger goals ahead that you would like to achieve.
What do you believe you need to work on most in 2012 in order to continue progressing through the Red Sox system?: Getting better each and every day so I can develop more consistency to each and every start.