That line from Jaws is all I could think about when I first laid in-person eyes on Anthony Ranaudo who is a monstrous human being, one whose size is not done justice in photographs. At 6’7” and a listed 231lbs (which I think might be a tad light), Ranaudo is an imposing presence on the mound. His delivery is a bit odd, slow and meandering to start before everything speeds up toward the end. It looks odd and uncomfortable and may or may not have a little bit to do with the two arm injuries he’s had over the past few years and the problems he’s had with control in the past. One thing I positively love about Ranaudo’s delivery is his arm angle. It’s a nearly straight over the top offering that allows Ranaudo to take full advantage of his frame and create more downhill plane on his pitches than I’ve seen out of any other prospect this year.
Combine that extreme plane with true plus velocity and you have one hell of a fastball. Ranaudo will sit 92-94mph with the heater and will touch 96mph. When a pitch that hard is descending from the heavens, it’s quite hard to do any damage to it. Ranaudo’s best secondary pitch is a 60 grade power curveball that sits in the low 80s and has true 12-6 movement. His command and use of the pitch is not yet refined. I’d like to see him pitch backwards with it, freeze hitters with it, bury it in the dirt for swings and misses. He just kinda throws it and sees what happens right now. That’ll work against Double-A hitters because the pitch is too explosive on its own to be trifled with at this stage. But it’s something for him to work on.
Ranaudo threw an awful lots of curveballs the other night and more or less ignored the changeup, which is a below average offering at present. On the surface you’d think they’d have Ranaudo working on the change, which site in the 86-88mph range and features almost no movement. Ranaudo’s changeup grip is a hybrid straight change/circle-change type grip. I wonder if, given his arm angle and the size of his hands and fingers, if a splitter grip might be more effective.
The raw material is there for a mid-rotation starter, maybe more if everything (an improved changeup, more sophisticated use of the curveball, good health) comes together. At the very worst (if the control goes backward for one reason or another or he continues to struggle with injuries and can’t handle a starter’s workload) I think he has the stuff to be a dominant late-inning reliever. I like him quite a bit and look forward to checking in with Ranaudo again soon to see if strides have been made.
Fastball: 65 (tons of downhill plane)
Curveball: 60 (needs to learn how to optimize its usage)
Changeup: 40 (maybe try a split grip?)
One Other Red Sox arm of note:
Miguel Celestino (RHP) – Acquired from Seattle along with Bill Hall in the Casey Kotchman trade, Celestino is tall, wiry and has 80 grade fastball velo but lacks control over his body and his delivery which results in 30 control/command. It’s really, really messy. He features a split in the low 90s and a short little slider/cutter thing in that’ll touch 93mph. You can’t teach someone to throw this hard, but Celestino’s got to iron some things out if he’s going to be a big leaguer. This is his first year pitching in full-time relief.
Fine, one more guy I kinda like:
Pete Ruiz (RHP) – Plus fastball, plus slider (81-83mph) which he uses in all sorts of fun ways (snuck in the back door several times vs Reading last week) and a curveball with velocity just barely beneath the slider. Control comes and goes, mostly goes. Double-A hitters don’t often see a guy who can spot the breaking ball where Ruiz was sticking it last night. It might not be as effective in the big leagues where more hitters can react to it and do something with it. He’s 25 years old at Double-A but he interests me.