Boston Red Sox: Anthony Ranaudo and the 10 Best Arms in the Farm System
The Boston Red Sox traded away their top-rated pitching prospect, Casey Kelly, in the offseason. He was the centrepiece of the package to get Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres and it must have hurt GM Theo Epstein to let him go.
Kelly is pitching well in the Minors and appears on course to become everything the Red Sox had predicted he would be. However, although their most talked-about pitcher is gone from their farm system, Boston still has some strong prospects in the Minor Leagues.
Anthony Ranaudo, Salem (High-A)
With the departure of Casey Kelly, Anthony Ranaudo is the undisputed top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organisation.
Ranaudo was selected by Boston in the supplemental round of the 2010 Draft after he led LSU to a national championship the year before, striking out 159 batters in fewer than 125 innings along the way. An elbow injury last year held him back and affected his mechanics, but he should be able to fix that and get back on track.
Drake Britton, Salem (High-A)
Tommy John surgery undergone in October of 2008 greatly slowed Drake Britton’s progress and, after ramping up slowly last year, he has had a very poor 2011.
He is 1-6 with a 7.42 ERA in 12 starts with the Salem Red Sox.
Felix Doubront, Pawtucket (Triple-A)
A 4.32 ERA in 25 innings pitched signified a decent ML debut last season for Felix Doubront, who is currently working back from a groin injury. He has pitched only two and two-thirds innings this season with Boston.
The Sox rate him quite highly.
He possesses a very good changeup and excellent control. His delivery is a bit awkward at times but is deceptive for hitters, who do not pick up the ball until late. He has struggled with the long ball though, a result of his leaving too many balls up in the zone.
Stolmy Pimentel, Portland (Double-A)
Sox Prospects lists Cleveland Indians starter Fausto Carmona as the closest Major League pitcher to Stolmy Pimentel.
That is a bit of an overstatement for a guy who will not make the step to the Majors for another two or three years, but there are similarities. Good control, an aggressive approach on the rubber and excellent composure and presence are all good signs for Pimentel.
However, he is hanging his curveball more often and is getting smoked.
He has yet to win a game this season.
Kyle Weiland, Pawtucket (Triple-A)
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Currently pitching with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Kyle Weiland is one of the most advanced options available to the Red Sox outside of the guys who have already pitched for the big league team, such as Felix Doubront.
Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur was quoted by WEEI.com as saying of Weiland: “It’s the command that is impressive…. He’ll sit there, and he’ll seek a way to get out of [a] jam.”
He has a great compliment of pitches and a plus 79-83 mph changeup to compliment his mid-90s fastball. He is glacially slow to the plate though, so he can struggle to keep the running game in check.
Brandon Workman, Greenville (Class-A)
Brandon Workman is a big, powerful righty who is hitting 94 and 95 mph on the radar gun with his fastball. Sox Prospects says he has the stamina, if not yet the control, to be a starter in the bigs.
Junichi Tazawa, Salem (High-A)
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Junichi Tazawa made his Major League debut in 2009, posting a 2-3 record in six games (four starts), but missed all of 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now recovering at High-A Salem, he has been doomed by bad innings, which has called his composure into question.
In some ways, he pitches in a similar manner to that of one of his idols, Daisuke Matsuzaka. However, he is far more willing to throw strikes and challenge hitters than Dice-K is.
Alex Wilson, Portland (Double-A)
Alex Wilson is another Red Sox prospect who has undergone Tommy John surgery in the past—he did so in 2008 while at Texas A&M.
He projects to be a good relief pitcher, but his control can be off at times and he is home run prone, so he might never develop into a starter at the Major League level.
Stephen Fife, Portland (Double-A)
A third-round pick out of Utah in 2008, Stephen Fife has made more headlines for being the pitcher against whom Stephen Strasburg struck out 23 batters, than for his pitching prowess. A subpar season last year did not help, and saw him fall out of the Top 30 Red Sox prospects ranked by Baseball America.
This season has been better; he has been the best starter for the Portland Sea Dogs, with five wins. He can hit the low 90s with his fastball and has great command of the strike zone.
Chris Hernandez, Salem (High-A)
Hernandez was named to the Carolina League All-Star team this season, with the fifth-best ERA (2.52) in the league. In 50 innings, he has a ground-out-to-fly-out ratio of more than three to one and has held opponents to a .230 average.
The 23-year-old’s fastball tops out at 89 mph and he has a great ability to mix up his pitches and change speeds. He also has a cutter and effective changeup, though his curveball lacks bite and depth.