|Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo’s reintroduction; Sean-o-Meter in High-A; an improbably diminutive home run hitter||04.10.13 at 11:31 am ET|
Last year, Anthony Ranaudo‘s season was derailed before it ever had a chance to get under way. The huge 6-foot-7 right-hander looked dominant for much of spring training, but then a groin injury near the end of camp delayed the start of his season and left his mechanics out of whack when he finally got on the mound for Double-A Portland.
Scouts who saw him were left to scratch their heads and wonder what had happened to someone with the reputation of a power pitcher. He sometimes struggled to get his fastball over 90 mph, and his command was erratic. The groin injury and then a subsequent shoulder impingement combined to yield what proved, essentially, a lost season for the right-hander. He made nine starts of dubious distinction in Double-A in 2012 en route to a 1-3 mark and 6.69 ERA before he was shut down for the year due to his shoulder issues on July 3.
That unhappy chapter in the prospect’s career may now be closed. In his 2013 unveiling, Ranaudo looked like the kind of pitcher who wasn’t seen a year ago in Portland. He tossed five innings (something he did in just four of his nine starts last year) while allowing one run (matching his 2012 best) on five hits (four singles and a double) while striking out six (a Double-A best) and walking just one. His fastball was around 93-95 mph throughout the night — better velocity than at any point last year — and his command of the pitch allowed him to overpower Reading’s lineup.
He pitched with the sort of confidence that he rarely possessed last year, something made evident by his willingness to pump strikes (48 of 71 pitches, 68 percent) throughout the night. He elicited 12 swings and misses. He was, in short, a different pitcher, more closely resembling the one who as recently as last March ranked as the top Red Sox pitching prospect than the right-hander who could not find a way out of the depths in 2012.
Ranaudo is still just 23, so even though he’s repeating Double-A, it’s still an age-appropriate level for him. If he can sustain the stuff that he showed both in late spring and in his first regular season start, there’s still time for him to re-establish himself as one of the more prominent pitching prospects in a Red Sox system that appears deeper in arms than it’s been at any point in recent years.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-1 WIN AT LEHIGH VALLEY
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Taking stock of the prospects at the start of the season||04.04.13 at 1:37 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The other Opening Day is upon us.
On Thursday, three of the Red Sox’ full-season minor league affiliates open their seasons, with Triple-A Pawtucket, Double-A Portland and Single-A Greenville all set to start play, and High-A Salem of the Carolina League set to open on Friday. As was the case last year, WEEI.com will endeavor (to try, to seek, to find and occasionally to yield to the realities that it’s hard to sustain this project on an everyday basis) to offer a daily roundup of the most interesting performances in the Red Sox’ minor league system.
The emphasis will be less on individual games than it will be on the development of prospects in broader context. The idea is to give a sense of where the players who might impact the Red Sox in the months or years down the road are in the (typically) nonlinear world of their career trajectories.
With games set to kick off, here’s a level-by-level look at an incomplete list of the most interesting players on each roster with some insight into their performances in spring training.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX
– Based on the spring, right-hander Allen Webster looks like the Pawtucket prospect with the greatest chance of making a considerable mid-year impact should the opportunity (whether due to injury or poor performance by one of the five season-opening big league starters) arise. His ability to show high-90s velocity with sink on his fastball coupled with a terrific changeup and a biting slider suggest a pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential if his command can be harnessed. He did a great job of doing just that in big league camp, striking out 14 and walking just one in 11 innings, and continued attack the strike zone once reassigned to minor league camp.
“He was very similar to what he’d done at the major league side — he only had, I think, a couple walks throughout spring training,” said farm director Ben Crockett. “A few mechanical adjustments that were made really helped him repeat his delivery a little better and kept him on line a little better, allowing that fastball to play. With as much movement and as much velocity as he has, his focus can be on the big part of the plate and letting it work to the corners rather than being too fine.”
– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa — who, like Webster, was acquired in the blockbuster deal with the Dodgers last season — continued to work in two-inning stints over the duration of spring training, just as was the case when he showed eye-opening stuff (albeit inconsistent execution) in big league camp. He will open the year as a starter who will work in short stints, with no strictly defined plan for his progression to build his innings load as he gets further and further removed from his 2011 Tommy John surgery.
Because of his early-season innings restrictions, De La Rosa is unlikely to be in the mix as a spot starter for the Red Sox in the early months of the season. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox Minor League Notes: Intriguing Double-A rotation, Garin Cecchini’s growth||03.13.13 at 7:33 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Anthony Ranaudo threw three innings in a Triple-A spring training game, showing good power on both his fastball and curveball and incorporating a few good changeups. His fastball command was initially shaky, though by his third inning of work, he was locating down in the strike zone and getting swings and misses on both his fastball and curve. Ranaudo is expected to open the year in Double-A.
Here’s some of WEEI.com’s Zapruder footage of Ranaudo’s first inning of work on Wednesday:
– The Double-A Portland rotation will be a prospect-laden one. While not set in stone, a team official said that 2011 first-rounder Matt Barnes is expected to open the season in Double-A Portland after going 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA in Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem last season. Barnes struggled at the end of 2012, finishing the year with Salem with a 3.58 ERA, but the Sox chalked up most of those late-season struggles to the challenges presented by a pitcher’s first full pro season.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Alex Cora offers a scouting report on Javier Vazquez||01.03.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
Former big league infielder Alex Cora, who spent 14 years in the big leagues including four with the Red Sox from 2005-08, is now serving as the general manager of the Caguas Criollos of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Cora assembled a team that cruised to the best record in the regular season, giving him the first pick in an end-of-season draft of the players who were on the two teams that didn’t qualify for the playoff round robin.
That pick, in turn, offered a fairly obvious prize: veteran big leaguer Javier Vazquez.
The 36-year-old hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011, choosing to stay at home for the 2012 season. But Vazquez, who sports a career 165-160 record and 4.22 ERA in 14 big league seasons, stayed in shape in 2012 by playing tennis and doing various cross-training activities, putting him in a position to prepare to pitch for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic this spring. As part of that preparation, Vazquez has now pitched in five winter league games, forging a 3.52 ERA with 30 strikeouts and six walks in 23 innings for Ponce before Cora selected him to join Caguas for the playoffs.
In the process, he’s looked, according to Cora, like the same pitcher who dominated in the big leagues at the end of 2011. Vazquez was 5-0 with a 0.71 ERA, 36 strikeouts and three walks in 38 innings for the Marlins in September 2011, earning NL Pitcher of the Month honors in his last month in the big leagues. That was the culmination of a stretch of 19 season-ending starts in 2011, during which Vazquez went 10-5 with a 1.92 ERA, 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and just 1.4 walks per nine. Read the rest of this entry »
|More in the pipeline? Red Sox prospects Anthony Ranaudo, Kyle Stroup impress in instructional league||10.12.12 at 9:09 am ET|
It was a strong year in the Red Sox farm system for pitching, despite the fact that two players who entered the year among the top-ranked arms in the system suffered what amounted to lost seasons.
Prior to the 2012 campaign, Baseball America tabbed Anthony Ranaudo as the No. 4 overall prospect and the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox’ system; in spring training, the big right-hander looked like a potential breakout candidate. However, injuries derailed Ranaudo’s season before it ever had a chance to take shape. He suffered a groin injury in spring training, experienced a recurrence of it while rehabbing, then never had his mechanics while pitching in Double-A Portland. Ranaudo made just nine starts in Portland, going 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA while issuing as many walks (27) as he had strikeouts in just 37 2/3 innings before getting shut down in the first week of July with a dead arm. He didn’t pitch again in Portland over the final two weeks of the season.
Meanwhile, right-hander Kyle Stroup started the year as the No. 20 overall prospect in the Sox system and the No. 8 pitching prospect as ranked by Baseball America based on a 2011 season in which he showed the ability to sustain mid-90s velocity with a changeup that gleaned swings and misses in bulk. But late in spring training, Stroup blew out the ACL in his left knee, resulting in the second time in three years that he missed a full minor league season after an ACL rupture (prior to 2010, he blew out his right knee in spring training).
That being the case, the returns of Ranaudo and Stroup to the mound represented a significant development for the Red Sox in the recently completed Fall Instructional League. Read the rest of this entry »
|What does precedent say about cost to Red Sox of landing John Farrell?||10.08.12 at 12:51 pm ET|
Whether or not John Farrell leaves Toronto to become the Red Sox manager — at a time when he has a season remaining on the three-year contract he received to manage the Blue Jays after the 2010 season — could well hinge on whether the team teams can agree on what comprises fair value when it comes to the skipper.
As explored ad nauseum last offseason, there are few comparisons when it comes to trades involving decision-makers (either baseball executives or managers) for players. But the two deals that got done last year, at least, suggest that the cost of such a “trade” does not include an elite prospect.
The Red Sox, of course, received two relievers from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, who left Boston to become president of baseball operations with the Cubs. The Sox got right-hander Chris Carpenter — a pitcher with a big arm who projected as a near-major league-ready bullpen contributor — as well as right-hander Aaron Kurcz — a small reliever who likewise has a big arm with impressive strikeout rates in the minors. The Sox parted with Jair Bogaerts, the twin brother of Xander Bogaerts, who was subsequently released by the Cubs.
Meanwhile, the Marlins sent a pair of prospects to the White Sox in order to secure the services of manager Ozzie Guillen. Florida sent right-hander Jhan Marinez and infielder Osvaldo Martinez to Chicago.
Baseball America ranked Marinez as the fourth-best prospect in the Marlins system entering the 2011 season while Martinez ranked fifth, leading to suggestions that equivalent compensation from the Red Sox to the Blue Jays might feature right-hander Anthony Ranaudo and outfielder Bryce Brentz, who ranked fourth and fifth in the Sox’ system in Baseball America’s pre-2012 rankings. But the comparison rings false.
“You’ve got to look at the quality of the players the Marlins gave up and not the ranks,” said Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis.
The reality of Martinez and Marinez is that their ranks reflected the absence of talent in the Marlins system. Marinez ranked fourth in the Marlins system and sixth in the White Sox’ system prior to this season because Baseball America viewed both farm systems as ranking among the worst in the game. Marinez’ likely upside is as a setup reliever. He has a high-octane fastball that can touch the high-90s, a slider and command issues. At the time that he went to Chicago, he was coming off a year in which he put up impressive strikeout numbers (11.5 per nine innings) and ugly walks totals (6.5 per nine). Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: The end of 2012 (sort of) arrives … at least for some||09.19.12 at 11:26 am ET|
It was an anticlimactic end for what had been a fun ride for Triple-A Pawtucket. The PawSox enjoyed a surprising run of outstanding pitching in the late summer, clinching a postseason berth in the final weekend of the summer and then losing just one game in two International League playoff series en route to the team’s first Governor’s Cup title since 1984. But the magic carpet ride ended in the one-game, winner-take-all Triple-A championship game against the Reno Aces — the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks — on Tuesday night, in a 10-3 loss.
And with that, the 2012 minor league season came to a close. It was a year in which the Red Sox roster certainly underscored the importance of a fertile farm system capable of churning out players who were drafted and developed, signed as international amateurs and/or plucked from other teams’ minor league systems or other obscure professional leagues. In total, the Red Sox had 18 players who were not on the big league roster (either the 25-man major league roster or the disabled list) — or, for that matter, any big league roster — at the start of the year come up to play varying roles in the major leagues this year. (That number doesn’t include players like Zach Stewart, Brent Lillibridge and Danny Valencia, all of whom opened the year on another team’s big league roster.)
The list (with some details about the players’ paths to the majors): Read the rest of this entry »
- Red Sox ink veteran lefty Rafael Perez to minor league deal
- Cup of Coffee: Vazquez nearly hits for cycle in Portland’s walk-off win
- Players of the Week, May 13-19: Mookie Betts and Matt Price
- Cup of Coffee: Montas strikes out eight in Greenville loss
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #34
- ESPNBoston: De La Rosa finding his way in Pawtucket
- Cup of Coffee: Bradley, Holt shine in PawSox loss
- Xander Bogaerts, Portland to headline Futures at Fenway
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: Matt Barnes
- Cup of Coffee: Henry, Diaz propel Pawtucket to blowout victory