It's pretty clear that the 2010 MLB Draft is going to be pitcher heavy. Aside from catcher prospect Bryce Harper (aka the second coming of Stephen Strasburg in position player form), who is practically a shoe-in to go No. 1, you have to drop down to the 10-15 top prospect range to find a legit position player who is a can't miss player.
I profiled hard throwing right-hander Jameson Taillon a few days ago as a prospective future Oriole prospect, and today it is Anthony Ranaudo's turn.
Ranaudo, a junior at LSU, is another big right-handed pitcher. At 6'7'' and 225 pounds, he features the ideal pitcher's body, conducive to churning out mid 90s fastballs.
Ranaudo has had a bit of a tough season so far, tossing only five innings due to an injury in his throwing elbow. He's back on track though, and luckily for the teams looking to get a good look at Ranaudo, he's been reinstalled as one of the weekend starters for the Tigers.
And if last year is any indication, it shouldn't take the big guy long to work his way back into fine form.
Ranaudo went 12-3 with a 3.04 ERA during 2009's championship run for the Tigers, and some of his best work on the mound came down the stretch. His 159 strikeouts led the SEC and was one of the top numbers in the nation. He struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings.
He was named MVP of the Baton Rouge regional, after striking out 14 over nine innings in a win against Baylor, and followed that up with six scoreless innings in a win against Arkansas in the College World Series semis. He saved his best, and definitely his gutsiest performance, for Game three of the CWS final against Texas.
He didn't hold the Longhorns hitless, or even keep them off the scoreboard, but he gutted out 5.1 innings and kept the Tigers in the game that they eventually won, clinching the 2009 CWS championship.
Ranaudo profiles as a No. 1 starter, a true inning eater. His mid 90s fastball is considered among the best of college starters, and his curveball has come quite a long way since he was an 11th-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2007.
He does have some issues with walking too many batters, as his 50 walks led the SEC in 2009. The walks are troubling, especially since Ranaudo is a college junior, but given his height, not entirely unexpected.
As a pro, Ranaudo would have to develop his secondary stuff, improve his changeup dramatically, and sharpen up his curveball. With some fine tuning, he could probably add a tick or two to his MPH, which could make him even more imposing.
His ceiling is as a borderline No. 1 or 2 starter, but without any control of his complimentary pitches, he might end up in the bullpen, which wouldn't necessarily be the worst thing. As a reliever, Ranaudo could profile as a classic closer. He has the intimidating size and presence, the hard fastball, and a quality second pitch.
He also has the guts and mentality that could be tailor made for that role.
Like Jameson Taillon, Ranaudo would slot in nicely behind Matusz, but also probably behind Tillman, who has better command of his pitches.
Either guy would be an excellent fit with the O's.