Given how last season went for Anthony Ranaudo, it seemed like his career had turned into a question mark. Where he found himself on Sunday illustrated just how much things have turned around.
Ranaudo took the mound in Buffalo in his Triple-A debut for Pawtucket almost 13 months to the day after his disappointing 2012 season ended.
The 23-year-old right-hander acquitted himself nicely, allowing four hits and striking out five without issuing a walk over six scoreless innings as the PawSox pulled away for an 8-1 triumph over the Bisons.
"It was a rough first inning, but after that I settled in, had really good command of my fastball and was able to work in and out pretty well," Ranaudo said. "Had really good command of my curve, was mixing speeds with it and using it as an out pitch.
"I feel pretty used to [big outings], but I'm not gonna lie, I was going into the game and felt confident, but there were a little jitters with the first batter there. After that, I pitched pretty well, made some pitches and got out of it.
Anthony Gose led off the bottom of the first with a single, stole second and took third on a groundout. But Ranaudo stranded him there by retiring Jim Negrych on a fly ball to left field and Andy LaRoche on a line drive to shortstop.
The New Jersey native faced the minimum until Ryan Goins singled with two outs in the fifth. After he struck out the first two batters in the sixth, Kevin Pillar reached on an error and Negrych singled, but Sean Ochinko bounced to short on Ranaudo's 86th and final pitch of the night.
Selected 39th overall in the 2010 Draft, Ranaudo went 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA in nine starts with Double-A Portland in an injury-plagued 2012 season. He's had a completely different kind of campaign this year, storming through the Eastern League with an 8-4 record, 2.95 ERA and 106 strikeout over 109 2/3 innings.
"[The success this year] is huge. It's that much more satisfying with the injuries and bad performances last year," the Red Sox's No. 6 prospect said. "All the work I put in this offseason, all the people that helped me with the weight strength program, the physical therapy, it's great to see it pay off. Hopefully, I can finish the year strong and just continue to get better every year."
Ranaudo also said he was anxious to play a part in Pawtucket's playoff run and, hopefully, make an impact in the short time he'll have to close out the year in the International League,
"It seems like a pretty good staff here. These guys like to win ballgames, like to have a good time," he said. "They're in a playoff race and from what I've seen, a lot of the guys are veteran guys, good leaders. I'm looking forward to the next couple weeks with the playoff push."
Ranaudo's batterymate, Dan Butler, doubled and drove in three runs for the defending Governors' Cup champions. Tony Thomas doubled twice and contributed an RBI in his Triple-A season debut, while Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. The Red Sox's top prospect is hitting .282/.378/.477 in 47 games with the PawSox.