By virtually any standard, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo had a commendable third season of professional baseball.
Ranaudo, who turned 24 on Sept. 9, began the season with the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. In 19 starts, he was 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings.
At the time of his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket Aug. 2, he led the Eastern League in on-base average (.204) and walks plus hits per inning pitched (1.09).
Not surprisingly, he was voted to the league's postseason All-Star team.
In six games (five starts) with the PawSox, Ranaudo compiled a 3-1 record with a 2.97 ERA. In Game 1 of the Governors' Cup final against eventual champion Durham, he allowed one run in six innings but received no decision in a 2-1 win.
Despite all this success, Ranaudo refused to play the "What if?" game, as in, "What if I hadn't had so many injuries; where might I be at this stage of my career?"
- As a freshman at LSU, he pitched only 12 innings because of elbow tendinitis.
- In 2012 spring training, when his fastball topped out at 97 mph, he strained a groin muscle that sidelined him until mid-May.
- In early July of that year, after making nine starts with Portland, he was shut down because of shoulder inflammation.
- In the Puerto Rican Winter League, he returned home after four games because he aggravated the groin injury.
"I think it's natural to have those thoughts," Ranaudo said. "But the fact is I am where I am right now. Whatever's happened has happened. It's all part of a plan. I'm a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason.
"If you go by that, it solves those problems wondering, 'What if this scenario happened?' I try not to play that out in my head. I'm happy with where I'm at and am looking forward to the future."
Baseball America certainly feels Ranaudo has a bright one, rating him Boston's No. 14 prospect prior to the season.
But even though Ranaudo put together a solid bounceback year, he's not inclined to pat himself on the back.
"I can't say that I'm surprised at the way it's turned out," he said. "I've worked hard and tried to take care of things the right way. This is like the ultimate plan. This is the way you want things to happen. You want to be successful and you want to stay healthy.
"I want to be in Boston, so hopefully this is me on the right track and I can stay this course, stay healthy and hopefully get up there and make an impact."
Depending on what happens during the offseason, Ranaudo should be given an opportunity in spring training to show he can "make an impact" with the Red Sox.
"I think being healthy all ties into that," he said. "Now that I'm healthy, I can worry about things on the field like in-game situations rather than worrying about what kind of injuries are nagging me or what kind of problems I'm having.
"I think that's the first and foremost thing. Just getting out there, getting repetitions under my belt, being successful, having confidence and keeping that rolling is important."
When Ranaudo is "rolling," his fastball tops out in the 93-to-96 range and he complements it with an above-average curveball and changeup. When he brings his A game and pitches a complete season like he did this year, he silences critics who've questioned his durability.
"There's always going to be people who have things to say," he said. "You really can't fault them. But I try not to pay attention to those people. I'm trying to do what's right for my career.
"Because of the way things have gone in my career, there's always going to be that kind of label and questions about my durability."
Just in case, Ranaudo won't pitch winter ball this year.
"I pretty much hit my innings limit this year regarding where the Red Sox wanted me to be (148 between regular and postseasons)," he said. "I think what I'm going to do when the season's over is go home and get on my strength and conditioning program ... use that same program that got me back to the point where I'm at this year.
"I want to start that building block from the offseason during the winter and try to build it right into spring training."