FORT MYERS, Fla. — Anthony Ranaudo has begun carrying his 2013 success into 2014.
Ranaudo, who re-established himself as one of the Boston Red Sox’s most intriguing prospects last season after a 2012 campaign plagued by injuries, overpowered the Minnesota Twins for two hitless innings in his spring training debut Friday.
“I thought he was impressive,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Three pitches for strikes. He was aggressive through the strike zone. And when he leveraged his fastball downhill, he was able to generate some swing and miss. An impressive two innings of work today for his first outing here.”
Ranaudo is coming off a solid 2013 season in which he posted an 11-5 record and 2.96 ERA in 25 starts (24 appearances) split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. Most importantly, Ranaudo remained healthy — something the right-hander was unable to do in 2012, when he posted a 6.69 ERA in just nine appearances with Portland.
Ranaudo likely will begin this season at Pawtucket, but the 24-year-old showed Friday why the organization thinks so highly of him. The former first-round pick racked up four strikeouts in his two innings, showcasing a lively fastball that Twins hitters simply couldn’t catch up to.
“You don’t want to pitch up in the zone. He did but got some swing and misses early on,” catcher David Ross said. “When he gets that ball down, there will be early groundballs. I think he was just overpowering guys throwing the ball up in the zone. As the season goes on, you’re probably not going to get away with that as much, but great first outing I thought for him.”
Ranaudo said after Friday’s effort that the Red Sox’s veterans helped keep the situation light for him, which calmed him amid some extra adrenaline. Now, the young righty plans to shift his focus back to continuing the upward trend he began last season.
“There’s a lot of things I expect from myself,” Ranaudo said. “But the first thing is try to learn as much from some of the older guys while I’m around them right now and just go out there and take it day-by-day — just like I’ve done the last couple of years. I know I had a little hiccup in 2012 with some injuries and stuff like that, but that’s the approach I’ve taken so far, and overall, except for 2012, I’ve been pretty pleased with how the progression has gone.”
Ranaudo, having pitched with Brandon Workman and Drake Britton in the minors, said he took note of each pitcher’s major league contributions in 2013. Their success created a blueprint for what Ranaudo hopes will become his reality in 2014 and is something the Red Sox aren’t ruling out when looking at the big picture.
“He’ll perform his way into a role once his date arrives to get to the big leagues here,” Farrell said. “But as far as profiling him and looking at the physical package, he’s got everything you’re looking for in a starting pitcher with power stuff that’s got the ability to pitch innings.”