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Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster dominate; Xander Bogaerts struggles early

04.16.13 at 11:01 am ET
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THIS was the guy who got the $2.55 million signing bonus.

In 2010, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo had a draft experience like few others. A pitcher who entered his junior year with the expectation of going in the top five or 10 picks, he struggled with injuries and performance as a junior, resulting in a slide to the Sox in the supplemental first round at the No. 39 overall pick. Once selected, Ranaudo elected to pitch in the Cape League, where each of his outings became an event, with Ranaudo throwing up zero after zero while re-establishing his prospect credentials to the point of receiving a signing bonus in line with a top 10 pick from the Sox.

Ranaudo had a solid professional debut in 2011. Beyond the decent but not overpowering numbers (3.97 ERA, 117 strikeouts and 46 walks in 127 innings in Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem), he showed a tremendous work ethic, solid stuff (a low-90s fastball that sometimes touched 94 mph, as well as the ability to spin a power curve) and both a willingness and ability to learn over the course of the season. It seemed like a solid foundation that was building towards a potential breakout in 2012, given that, by the time he showed up in spring training last year, his fastball had ticked up into the mid-90s. Injuries prevented the breakout from happening, and instead resulted in a lost year with Double-A Portland.

But that’s now officially behind the right-hander. Now, Ranaudo is off to a dominating start to his 2013 campaign, one that suggests he’s separated himself from the struggles of a year ago, showing the skills and stuff to suggest that he may be close to reconnecting with the lofty prospect status that he enjoyed during the much-scrutinized time when pitching in the Cape League.

On Monday, Ranaudo logged five no-hit innings for Portland, allowing just one walk while striking out six. While he threw strikes on just 44 of his 73 pitches on Monday (60 percent), he got a dozen swings and misses, and the ability to get a handful of groundballs in addition to his strikeouts suggests that he was able to spot his fastball in a fashion that permitted either bad contact or no contact.

In two starts this year, he’s permitted one run on five hits in 10 innings, showing the ability to get swings and misses (12 strikeouts) and attacking the strike zone (two walks). His fastball — which was 92-96 mph on Monday, with good angle that made use of his 6-foot-7 frame and sharp command — represented an overpowering pitch, and he was also able to elicit a couple of swings and misses with his curveball and changeup.

In short, he’s looked nothing like he did last season in Portland, and a lot like he had at his most promising. His re-emergence represents one of the bigger developments in the initial weeks of the season for the Red Sox farm system.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-3 LOSS VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

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– DH David Ortiz, who missed Sunday’s game due to illness, was a late scratch in Triple-A Pawtucket’s game on Monday. He is in the team’s lineup on Tuesday.

– Right-hander Allen Webster had another dominant outing, permitting one run (on a solo homer) on five hits, walking none and punching out seven in five innings. Of his 15 outs, seven came via strikeouts and five more came on groundballs. He now has 12 strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings (he also had two more shutout innings of work in a game that was rained out). He threw strikes on 55 of his 84 pitches (65 percent), continuing to show the improvements in control that have characterized his work since spring training. And, he continued to show an arsenal that gets either bad contact or no contact. Webster elicited swings and misses on 17 pitches on Monday — just over 20 percent of all the pitches he threw.

– Though Jose Iglesias was 0-for-3, and is now 2-for-14 since being sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket, he did work a walk — the third straight game in which he’s done so. He had two different stretches of walking in three straight games while in Pawtucket last year.

Bryce Brentz was 0-for-4, and is now 0-for-11 in his last three games.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-4 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

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– Third baseman Michael Almanzar had his sixth multi-hit game in nine contests this year, going 2-for-5 with his third homer of the young season. He’s already matched his home run total (3) from the first half of 2012 in High-A Salem.

– Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is off to a difficult start at the plate. The 20-year-old went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and he’s now 7-for-41 (.171) with no extra-base hits and 14 strikeouts. He did negotiate his third walk of the year on Monday, giving him two more walks in nine games this year than he had in 23 Double-A contests a year ago.

SALEM RED SOX: 7-2 LOSS VS. POTOMAC (NATIONALS)

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– After a rough first outing of the year (2 2/3 innings, eight runs), William Cuevas — who set an ERA record with the Lowell Spinners last year, with a sterling 1.40 mark in 77 1/3 innings — rebounded impressively, permitting just one run on two hits (a single and a double) with seven strikeouts and no walks. It was the third highest strikeout total of Cuevas’ professional career; he had outings of 10 and nine punchouts in 2012 with Lowell.

– Shortstop Deven Marrero was 1-for-2 with a single and two walks, his second straight multi-walk game. The 22-year-old now has a .313 average and .405 OBP.

– Outfielder Brandon Jacobs is now 1-for-16 with eight strikeouts over his last five games after going 0-for-3 with a pair of punchouts on Monday. He does have two walks during that stretch. In 40 plate appearances thus far this year, he now has 14 strikeouts and two walks with a .143 average and .225 OBP.

– Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 6-0 LOSS VS. WEST VIRGINIA (PIRATES)

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– On the one hand, right-hander Justin Haley didn’t allow a hit in his 3 2/3 innings of work and induced five groundball outs (two on a double play). However, the 2012 sixth-rounder walked six batters and threw just 31 of 74 pitches for strikes. Haley has given up just four hits in 10 1/3 innings this season, but with 16 walks against his 13 strikeouts.

– Outfielder Cody Koback went 1-for-3 with a walk and recorded a pair of outfield assists, clipping one runner at third and one at the plate. The 22-year-old is hitting .273 with a .351 OBP and five steals in the first 10 games this year.

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