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Minor League notebook

Ranaudo eager for new start

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / May 18, 2012
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Anthony Ranaudo got his season underway in earnest this week when he was shipped up to Double A Portland. Regarded as the Red Sox’ top pitching prospect, the 22-year-old righthander made his Sea Dogs debut Tuesday in an 8-5 road victory over Reading.

Ranaudo, a first-round draft pick out of Louisiana State in 2010, did not factor in the decision. He allowed four runs on four hits, including a pair of homers, to go with three walks and a pair of strikeouts.

“Yeah, there was obviously a little nerves,’’ said Ranaudo, who endured a hectic day of travel Monday, flying from extended spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., to Portland in time to make the team bus ride to Reading, Pa. “I think if you don’t have any nerves your first start of the year against higher competition, I would question your competitiveness. I was a little nervous, but it was a good nervous.

“I was so cooped up, I felt like a caged animal down in Florida working out and feeling good for a couple of weeks, so I was definitely excited to make my season debut.’’

Although it took him 25 pitches to get out of the first inning, Ranaudo established his fastball and curve to get some swing-and-miss strikes.

“From a stuff standpoint, he showed very good stuff,’’ said Ben Crockett, Red Sox director of player development. “He showed the ability to make very good adjustments after giving up a run in the first and coming back and attacking the strike zone.’’

Last year, his first professional season, the 6-foot-7-inch Ranaudo went 9-6 with a 3.97 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 26 games between Low A Greenville and Single A Salem.

Ranaudo started this season the disabled list with a groin strain, so when he made his first start there was much to overcome.

“There was definitely emotions of anxiety and excitement and stuff like that,’’ he said. “I think you could see it in my results, because I usually don’t have command issues like I had the first two innings of that game.’’

Asked if his struggles were a function of any physical or mechanical issues, Ranaudo said, “Honestly, if we were to break it down, I just didn’t pitch the way I know how to pitch and the way I had been pitching. I really wasn’t throwing the ball with aggression like I had been the last couple of weeks in Florida during spring training.’’

That was, of course, before he suffered a groin strain in his penultimate start of spring training.

“Any time you have an injury or a setback, it obviously puts a wrinkle in your plan,’’ said Ranaudo, who spoke by phone from Portland, where he spent an offday Thursday settling into his new apartment, buying groceries, and unpacking his bags.

“I had been throwing the ball really well in spring training, but it’s all part of the process because I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I just accepted it, rehabbed the way I was supposed to, and was working hard each day making the most of the opportunity.’’

Crockett said Ranaudo should be able to make up for lost time in Portland.

“The way he performed in spring training prior to the injury, I think he earned a shot to go to Double A,’’ Crockett said.

“The injury was a setback, time-wise, a little bit, but he’s healthy now and hopefully once he settles into a new level, he’ll be able to continue to develop the way he had in spring training.’’

Bradley on tear

Although Salem split a doubleheader Tuesday against Carolina, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to seven games with a double in the first game and a triple in the second. Bradley also extended his on-base streak to 29 games, a stretch in which he hit .417 (45 of 108) with a .514 on-base percentage, 17 extra-base hits, 22 walks, 22 RBIs, and 33 runs.

“Of the newly drafted guys, Jackie Bradley has really put together a great month and a half to start the season,’’ said Crockett of the 22-year-old who was drafted in the first round (40th overall) in 2011 out of the University of South Carolina.

“Despite being a college player in his first full season and moving up to High A, and spending very little time in Greenville the year before [four games], he’s done a nice job of being about as consistent as any hitter in our organization and bringing the same approach to the game, both offense and defense and in the clubhouse.’’

Big night for Iglesias

Pawtucket shortstop Jose Iglesias went 3 for 5 and belted his first home run of the year in an 8-2 victory Tuesday night at Durham, N.C. Iglesias went 2 for 5 Wednesday night to raise his average to .267, and was hitting .349 (15 for 43) in his 10 previous games . . . Righthander Brandon Duckworth allowed two runs over six innings Tuesday to remain undefeated (5-0) in seven starts for Pawtucket . . . The Greenville Drive rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday to defeat Asheville, 5-4, with Garin Cecchini delivering a walkoff, two-out, two-run triple . . . So what did Mickey Pena do for an encore after throwing six perfect innings in the first combined no-hitter in Greeneville history last Tuesday? The 21-year-old lefthander allowed one run on two hits and three walks, with eight strikeouts in six innings. Pena improved to 3-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 37 strikeouts over 37 1/3 innings.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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