Ranaudo, Owens earn Minor League promotions
Pitching prospects make strong impression with Red Sox's front office
BOSTON -- When the Red Sox needed pitching help this season, they reached into their glimmering farm system, picked out a few arms and added them to the mix.
The results have been extraordinary, with Drake Britton, Steven Wright and Brandon Workman, among others, providing a much-needed boost as the season begins its final two months.
For the Red Sox, that bag of goodies runs deep.
Two more of their talented pitching prospects were promoted through the Minor League system on Friday. Hard-throwing right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, 23, earned a spot with Triple-A Pawtucket while left-hander Henry Owens, 21, was promoted to Double-A Portland fresh off a streak of 19 1/3 innings in which he didn't allow a hit.
While Owens has been on cruise control, as expected, this season -- "He's been very strong," Red Sox manager John Farrell put it simply -- Ranaudo's success has been particularly impressive.
After battling a groin injury in 2012, a year in which Ranaudo made just nine starts and posted a 6.69 ERA in Portland, he bounced back with a sensational 2013 season. In 19 starts prior to his promotion, Ranaudo had struck out 106 batters in 109 2/3 innings while accumulating a 2.95 ERA.
A sigh of relief for the Boston front office?
"Not really," said assistant general manager Mike Hazen. "I mean, we took him where we took him [in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft] because we believed in his talent and ability. He got hurt last year. Guys are hurt, they don't perform to the level they're accustomed. You can't underestimate that. I think that's what we saw last year.
"Basically, this year is what we've always known of him -- prior to when we drafted him, his first year. Last year was a tough year for him physically."
Farrell, too, has been pleased with the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Ranaudo, who pitched at this year's Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game.
"He's remained healthy first and foremost," Farrell said, "but the velocity has climbed. He's pitching, I think, to the projection that made him a first-round pick back in 2010."
Ranaudo and Owens are the club's sixth- and fourth-ranked prospects, respectively, according to MLB.com. The Red Sox tend to promote some of their highly-regarded youngsters this time of year to give them exposure at the next level before they head into the offseason.
The future is looking as bright as the present.
"We like to show them what that next level is all about, to let them go and compete and see what they can do in that window of time," Hazen said. "But also as they're going into the offseason, it gives them a good marker. If it goes a little rougher, to be like, 'Hey, now I've got to prepare that much harder to compete at this level.' Going into Spring Training, not having that unknown of, 'What's this level going to present to me early in the season?' We feel like that helps next April."