The Red Sox had four draft picks in the first two rounds of the 2010 amateur entry draft, and three of those selections are playing for the Single-A Greenville Drive to start the 2011 season. Two of those–Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman–made their professional debuts this April, while Bryce Brentz only wishes he had after putting up a 598 OPS for Low-A Lowell. We already covered Kolbrin Vitek, the fourth of this group, in the Salem Sox update, so today we’ll focus on the other three.
The 6-foot-7 right-hander Anthony Ranaudo has been lights out to start his pro career, tossing 19 2/3 innings over four starts while striking out 23 batters (against just eight walks for a K/BB of 2.9). He has hit a pair of batters already, so his control hasn’t been stellar, but you can forgive that when a pitcher has a K/9 of nearly 11.
Ranaudo struggled in his last college season due to elbow issues and inconsistency in his performances. His fastball (which generally sits 92-94 but has hit the upper 90s) and change are both quality offerings at this stage, but his curve is the real deal, and easily his best pitch. Between his strong showing in the Cape Cod League and his start at Greenville, it looks like the previous spring’s troubles may be behind him.
He has a 0.46 ERA and has allowed just 10 hits–if this dominance continues, he won’t be in Single-A for very long at all, especially since it was believed he would start his career there to begin with. He is without a doubt Boston’s top pitching prospect, but given his age and level won’t be in the rotation mix for at least another two years.
Brandon Workman has not had a similar auspicious start, though the real keys–his strikeout and walk rates–are fine. Workman holds an ERA of 5.65 at present, thanks to nine earned runs (and 13 runs) allowed in 14 1/3 innings pitched. He has also punched out 13 hitters in that stretch, and against just three walks, so it’s not all bad.
Workman has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and an overhand curve that consistently work for him, but whatever projection he has left will depend on the success of his third pitch, which at present is a changeup. His current future looks to be that of back-end starter, but he is considered polished and is on schedule to be major league ready at the same time as Ranaudo–albeit in a role of lesser significance.
Bryce Brentz is an intriguing case. He was drafted by the Indians in 2007 in the 30th round, and eventually went 36th to Boston in last year’s draft. He struggled at Low-A after slugging .671, .930, and .636 over his three seasons at Middle Tennessee State, and the culprit was supposed to be the switch to wooden bats–Brentz, at 6-foot-nothing and 185 pounds, isn’t built like your prototypical power hitter.
He is doing his best to stave off those concerns this year, though, and is hitting .333/.386/.556 with four homers, two doubles and a pair of triples over his first 81 at-bats. He is striking out 17 percent of the time, as compared to 27 percent of the time at Lowell–it’s early yet, but you like to see someone who struggled as much as Brentz did in his debut pick up the pieces and rebound like this, especially when their swing is as huge as his.
After splitting time amongst all three outfield slots in Lowell, he has stuck in right field for 17 of the 19 games he has played this year. His arm is strong enough for the position, and his range works well in a corner.
He is already 22, so the hope is that he continues to mash and can move up a level within this season, distancing himself from his poor pro start.