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Post Hype Prospect: Anthony Ranaudo

There aren’t as many prospects who have had as many ups and downs before reaching the major leagues as Anthony Ranaudo, but his performance in 2013 has firmly established him as the top pitching prospect for the Boston Red Sox and someone who should be owned in all dynasty leagues.

Anthony Ranaudo’s time in the spotlight began when he was a sophomore at St. Rose High School in Belmar, New Jersey, when he threw back-to-back no hitters during the regular season, and finished the season by throwing a two-hit shutout and hitting a two-run home run in the state championship game. In his junior year, Ranaudo put had a 7-0 record with a 0.96 ERA and 99 strikeouts, which he followed up by going 5-2 with a 1.32 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 49 innings in his senior campaign. As a cap to his season, Ranaudo was named to the Rawlings All-America team in 2007. He was drafted in the 11th round by the Texas Rangers, but opted to go to LSU.

Ranaudo struggled with elbow tendinitis his freshman year at LSU, appearing in only eight games (one start), and logging only 12 innings. Over the summer, Ranaudo pitched for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and the Chatham A’s in the Cape Cod league, putting up a 0-2 record across 10 games (two starts) with a 6.63 ERA. Ranaudo’s sophomore season showed the promise, as he went 12-3 with a 3.04 ERA, striking out 159 in 124.1 innings (for context, the SEC hit 302/379/587 as a conference, good for a 966 OPS). Going into his junior season at LSU, Ranaudo was viewed as the top draft-eligible college pitchers, behind only high schooler Jameson Taillon. Unfortunately, Ranaudo again struggled to stay healthy, putting up a lackluster 7.32 ERA across 51.2 innings while dealing with elbow elbow problems. After the season, the Red Sox drafted Ranaudo in the supplemental first round (39th overall), and watched as Ranaudo tried to show he was healthy by pitching in the Cape Cod league. To put it mildly, Ranaudo dominated while in the Cape, going 3-0 over five starts without allowing an earned run (he allowed two unearned), striking out 31 across 29.2 innings.

Ranaudo and the Red Sox agreed to a contract with a signing bonus of $2.55 million. Ranaudo was assigned to the Low A Lowell Spinners, but did not appear in a game. Coming into 2011, Ranaudo was one of the more interesting prospects in the game. Blessed with a plus fastball and curveball, many felt that Boston did a great job of using their financial firepower to overpay a player who fell to them (as they did before with with Casey Kelly, amongst others). Rated the #67 prospect by Baseball America and the #100 prospect by Baseball Prospectus, Ranaudo’s stock was firmly in the “wait and see” camp. Ranaudo was assigned to the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League and started strong, not allowing an earned run until his fifth start while striking out 23 in his first 20 innings. After ten starts in the Sally, Ranaudo’s ERA sat at a respectable 3.33, with 50 strikeouts and 35 hits across 46 innings. Ranaudo was promoted to the Salem Red Sox of the High-A Carolina League. Ranaudo was not as successful in Salem, putting up a 4.33 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 80 hits in 81 innings. While he still showed much promise, Ranaudo’s velocity was viewed as average and he failed to flash the upside that got him the eighth highest bonus in the 2010 draft.

Before the 2012 season, Ranaudo fell off the top 100 prospect lists and continued to fail to impress scouts, putting up a 6.69 ERA across nine starts for the Portland Sea Dogs of the AA Eastern League. Ranaudo’s season was delayed by a groin injury, and he struggled with his pitching motion upon his return. After experiencing dead arm in July, he failed to pitch again during 2012.

Ranaudo, with his stock decimated, returned to Portland to start 2013 and began to show what he can do when healthy. He put up a 2.95 ERA over 109.2 innings, striking out 106, allowing just 80 hits. After his start on July 30th, Ranaudo was promoted to the Pawtucket Red Sox of the AAA International League, where he continued to dominate hitters, putting up a 2.70 ERA in his first three starts. While his WHIP has increased from 1.094 to 1.380 and his K/9 has decreased from 8.7 to 5.9, Ranaudo is still consistently getting batters out, allowing him to re-establish himself as a prospect. Furthermore, Ranaudo is now consistently using his plus fastball and curveball, while mixing in his solid-average change-up. While Ranaudo may never turn into the top of the rotation anchor the Red Sox hoped, he now appears to be more likely to become the mid-rotation innings eater that every team needs, and is often forced to overpay to acquire.

While Ranaudo is not near the prospect status of Archie Bradley or Taijuan Walker, his proximity to the major leagues and success in the high minors significantly improves his value. While I probably like Ranaudo more than most, I view his dynasty value as being closer to elite pitching prospects such as Trevor Bauer and Zach Lee than one may think. While Bauer has potential to become a rotation ace and Lee projects into a solid #2/3, Ranaudo’s floor is that of a back of the rotation innings eater. Bauer has had much documented struggles with control, and Lee hasn’t pitched as well in AA as Ranaudo did this year, increasing the value of a pitcher like Ranaudo who has less development remaining could have more value, particularly in the short term. This is not to say that Ranaudo won’t have growing pains when he reaches the major leagues, but his stuff is nearly major league ready.

Ranaudo projects as a pitcher who will log 180-200 IP and strike out 150 batters, with an ERA around 3.50 and a 1.12 WHIP, year in and year out. While that does not sound like someone with elite fantasy value, it is very similar to John Lackey’s average season from 2005-2009, you would see an average of 198 IP with 167 strikeouts, a 3.49 ERA, and a 1.262 WHIP (and 20.5 WAR according to Baseball-Reference). While John Lackey has never led a fantasy team to a championship, he’s a solid 4th pitcher, and one that is probably owned in every league. In short, Anthony Ranaudo should be owned in all dynasty leagues, and all but the shallowest of keeper league.

Until next time, you can follow me @hypeprospect.

Baseball Prospectus
Baseball America
Baseball Cube (which has college stats – something pretty amazing)

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M Foreman

M Foreman

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