|Red Sox minor league notes: Ranaudo, Workman held back; Stroup suffers major injury||04.05.12 at 12:05 pm ET|
After a couple seasons in which the strength of their farm system appeared to be their position players, the Red Sox are starting to see promising signs from their pitchers. Homegrown pitchers Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront will both be in the rotation this year, Alex Wilson looms as a potentially significant midyear call-up, and in the lower levels, pitchers such as Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens have the Sox hopeful about the next wave of pitching prospects.
That said, the Sox have suffered a pair of setbacks — one minor, one more significant — to their pitching prospects at the start of the year.
The most notable development was the fact that right-hander Kyle Stroup — who thrust himself into prospect status last year at Single-A Greenville, where he went 5-2 with a 1.55 ERA, 53 strikeouts and 12 walks in 63 2/3 innings over his last 13 starts, and showed a fastball that sat at 92-95 mph while touching 97 mph, and also showing a potential plus changeup — blew out his knee for the second time in three springs.
Stroup blew out the ACL of his right knee in a freak spring training accident in 2010 and missed the entire season. This spring, he blew out his left ACL, and he’ll require surgery that has his 2012 season in jeopardy.
“We’re really, obviously, disappointed. He was having a really good spring. He’d made some strides, opened some eyes last year, and maybe opened his own eyes about how good he can be,” said Sox farm director Ben Crockett. “He’ll have the surgery, rehab it, go from there.”
Of course, the one silver lining for Stroup is that he has successfully returned from this injury before, and came back as a better pitcher thanks to his committed approach to the rehab process.
Meanwhile, top pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo will be delayed by perhaps a few weeks before making his debut with Double-A Portland. Ranaudo suffered a mild right groin injury in late-March, and is currently limited to playing catch in extended spring training. He will need to get stretched out by pitching at least a couple of games in Fort Myers before he heads to Portland to start his season. The injury is not considered significant — it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ranaudo in Portland before the end of April — but after a first pro season in which he remained healthy for all 26 of his starts, a notable development given that health had been a question surrounding him when the Sox took him in the supplemental first round of the 2010 draft.
But, while Ranaudo will be sidelined briefly, there is otherwise a great deal of promise surrounding him at the start of this year. Team officials raved about how the right-hander looked in spring training, where he touched 97 mph in his second outing (the highest velocity the team had seen from him) while showing a legitimate three-pitch mix.
“The second outing was the one that kind of blew me away, and those who saw it. The velocity ticked up. He was throwing more aggressively. The curveball was as good as we’d seen. And the changeup, he was 3-for-3 throwing that for strikes, so showing good feel for that pitch in three innings,” said Crockett. “What we saw was very good. It hearkened back to what we saw at the beginning of last year and what I imagine the amateur scouts saw.”
Brandon Workman, meanwhile, is being held back briefly in extended spring training to get some additional innings before starting his assignment in High-A Salem.
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