Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes Dazzle, but Should Sox Pay Ranaudo's Price?
So far, so good, as he looked strong again against Wareham.
Despite his strong effort, it really was not Ranaudo who stole the show on Saturday. Matt Barnes, a right-hander out of the University of Connecticut, showed downright electric stuff against the Brewster lineup and already has the look of an early first-rounder in 2011.
Ranaudo may have been the star attraction on Saturday night, and he was rewarded with the win, but from where I was in the scout section, Barnes was the standout. Despite being saddled with the loss, Barnes racked up 14 strikeouts for Wareham and allowed just one walk, four hits, and one run over seven dominant innings of work.
Results don't always match the stuff and vice versa, but in this particular case there was no discrepancy. Barnes was filthy from the very first pitch of the game. He worked at 93-96 mph with his fastball, reaching 97 twice on my gun. For most of the game, he was steadily at 94-95 mph. And, while his secondary stuff was certainly there, it was his fastball that really set the tone. It showed big, late life and bored up and in on right-handed hitters all night long.
When he was getting ahead in the count, his fastball was close to unhittable up and out of the zone. On top of that exploding fastball, the bad news for hitters was that he had his secondary pitches working as well. While his secondary pitches do not grade as highly as his fastball, he was able to consistently spot his breaking ball both for strikes and down out of the zone when he needed to. He threw some of his breaking balls at 74-77 mph with more of a curveball break, but more effective for him, was a harder, sharper two-plane breaking ball with a slider break at 78-81 mph. Barnes showed the ability to throw both breaking balls to the front door and back door to righty hitters, and coming off his plus fastball, there were a lot of paralyzed hitters taking called third strikes.
Couple that with the quality changeup he flashed at 83-85 mph, an easy delivery and, at least to me, this is a top-15 talent heading into the 2011 draft.
Barnes hasn't had a squeaky clean college career in terms of statistics, and some of the reasons for that were evident even in his dominant performance on Saturday. He tends to lose his release point with his fastball at times, gets behind in the count, and in turn gets a little bit predictable. And, particularly with his slower breaking ball, he gets around it at times and loses some of that good bite.
Scouts have been waiting for it to all click into place for Barnes, and this Cape season could be that coming out party for him. If he can stay consistent with his breaking ball, and continue to pound the zone with his dynamic fastball, he stacks up with the most talented arms in the country.
Ranaudo Builds Case
Red Sox evaluators kept a sharp eye on Anthony Ranaudo on Saturday night, and they may be seeing the price tag rise before their eyes. There's really never been much doubt about Ranaudo's ability but his health became a question mark this spring. With the way he is throwing the ball right now, that appears to be a non-issue. But, although the performance was strong overall, I have my doubts about paying him the top dollar he may be asking for. Is he one of the best few arms from the 2010 class? Absolutely. But, there are some legitimate concerns.
The best thing about Ranaudo on Saturday was without a doubt his fastball life. He worked at 91-94 mph throughout the night, hovering around 92 for the most part. He gets an outstanding downhill plane from his 6-foot-7 frame, and the hop on his fastball down in the zone was quite impressive. The velocity came easily and the ball was coming out of his hand nicely.
His secondary offerings were a little bit of a different story, however. He dropped in a couple of very good curveballs at 78-81 mph, but for the most part he struggled to get it down in the zone, and missed badly up and away a few times. Ranaudo also mixed in a changeup at 82-83 mph, but there was a real lack of feel there and he didn't use it all that often.
So, what Boston does with Ranaudo or what they are willing to pay remains to be seen, but overall what he did on this night can only be positive for him. He's looking much more now like the pitcher that made him a projected top-five pick heading into 2010.
Frankie Piliere spent the last three seasons working as a scout, most recently in the professional scouting department for the Texas Rangers in 2009. He now serves as the National Baseball Analyst here at FanHouse.