Readying for spring, Ranaudo feels 'welcome' in Texas
New acquisition, originally drafted out of high school by Rangers, eyeing fifth rotation spot
HURST, Texas -- A number of Rangers have been working out at Hurst L.D. Bell High School this winter. Pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, acquired last week from the Red Sox, joined them on Tuesday, giving him a first-hand look at a Texas-sized "Activity Center."
"I think my high school might have been the same size as this here," Ranaudo said, looking around L.D. Bell's indoor football practice facility.
Ranaudo went to St. Rose Belmar (N.J.) High School. The Catholic school on the North Jersey Shore has an enrollment of 562, but the Rangers still found him in 2007, selecting Ranaudo in the 11th round of the First-Year Player Draft. He didn't sign and instead decided to attend LSU.
"I had it in my mind to go to college," Ranaudo said. "I had a certain dollar figure in mind, and I didn't think I would get it. I was set on going to college."
After helping LSU win the College World Series in 2009, Ranaudo still ended up in Texas. The Red Sox, who drafted him with the 39th overall pick in 2010 and gave him a $2.55 million signing bonus, traded Ranaudo to the Rangers for reliever Robbie Ross Jr.
"I'm excited, it's a new opportunity for me," said Ranaudo, who is ranked by MLB.com as the Rangers' No. 6 prospect. "Obviously it is my first time to be traded. To be traded to the team that drafted you out of high school makes you feel welcome."
The Rangers acquired Ranaudo to compete for a spot in the rotation, but he faces strong competition. Texas' rotation is expected to include Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Yovani Gallardo. That leaves the fifth spot open, and Ranaudo will compete against left-hander Ross Detwiler and right-handers Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez and Lisalverto Bonilla.
"If my name is in that discussion, that's great," Ranaudo said. "I'm not worried about any pecking order. Obviously there are established guys in the rotation, but there is an opportunity there. I just need to go out there and compete and show them what I can do."
Ranaudo, who is 25 and stands 6-foot-7, was given an opportunity by the Red Sox this past season. He was 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts and 138 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket, then made seven starts for the Red Sox over the final two months.
Ranaudo won his first three starts -- Derek Jeter was his first Major League strikeout -- and then fatigue set in, he said. Ranaudo was 1-3 with a 5.06 ERA in his final four starts, although he did finish with an 11-3 win over the Rays while allowing two runs in seven innings.
"It was a learning experience," Ranaudo said. "I learned the game, I learned the strike zone, I learned the hitters. I learned what a Major League strike is, throwing quality strikes and just throwing any strike. You have to throw quality strikes in the right spot. If you throw strikes in the wrong spot, they will make you pay."
Ranaudo has been relying on a fastball and a curve, but he said his changeup was better last year and he is developing a slider. That was a big pitch for him last season at Pawtucket and could be critical for future success. Ranaudo is not overpowering, so he will need a good mix of pitches to succeed as a starting pitcher at the big league level.
The Rangers see him as a starting pitcher. If he doesn't make the rotation in Spring Training, Ranaudo will likely continue his development at Triple-A Round Rock. The Rangers need all the starting depth they can get because Gallardo, Lewis and Detwiler can all be free agents after the upcoming season.
"I just want to go in and compete and not worry about the pecking order," Ranaudo said. "They have guys who get paid a lot of money and have good educations to make those decisions. My job is to compete and help the team win no matter what level I am at. That's all I can do."