PORTLAND – When Portland Sea Dogs right-hander Anthony Ranaudo was not lifting weights in the offseason, he lifted a fork.
“A lot of lean meats and good carbs. Rice and chicken,” he said. “When I say a lot, I mean a lot. I was eating six to eight meals a day; 4,500 calories a day. It has paid off.”
Ranaudo, 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, is a stronger, more effective pitcher, and the results are evident.
Ranaudo, 23, received two honors Wednesday, invited to both the Major League All-Star Futures Game and the Eastern League All-Star Game.
The Futures Game, held this year at the Mets’ Citi Field in New York on July 14, features several of the best minor league prospects. Teams are divided into U.S players and the World team. Ranaudo, a New Jersey native, will pitch for the U.S.
Former Portland infielder Xander Bogaerts, 20, received his second straight invitation to the game, on the World roster.
New Sea Dogs third baseman Garin Cecchini might also get invited to the U.S. team. In a gimmick similar to the major league All-Star voting, fans are being asked to pick the last two players on the Futures Games rosters.
Cecchini, 22, is one of five U.S. players fans can vote for online (mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/ all_star/y2013/fut/ballot.jsp).
Four Sea Dogs were named to the Eastern League All-Star Game July 10 in New Britain, Conn. — Ranaudo, fellow pitcher Drake Britton, catcher Christian Vazquez and corner infielder Michael Almanzar.
“That’s a good mix. Very talented group,” Portland Manager Kevin Boles said. “They’ve contributed a lot to this club.”
Ranaudo (7-2) leads all league starters in ERA (2.28) and opponents’ batting average (.180) and is second in strikeouts (86). He is rebounding from a injury-filled 2012 season when he pitched nine games.
He also is healthy, locating his mid-90s fastball with a deadly curve and improving change-up.
“What drives his success is his fastball,” Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper said. “That’s a byproduct of confidence and where he’s at physically.”
Where Ranaudo is at, is about 20 pounds heavier than he was last year, without an increase in body fat. To avoid future injuries, the Red Sox wanted Ranaudo stronger.
“When I got hurt last year, I was sent down to (the Red Sox training facility) Fort Myers. They said this is a good time to put on some good weight, some muscle.
“I put on 10 pounds there, working out and eating a lot of healthy food. Continued in the offseason and wound up gaining 10 more pounds.
“I feel stronger. That allows me to go out every day with a lot of confidence. Last year was like ‘what’s going to happen now?’ Now I’m able to focus on competing and on game situations, rather than the physical parts.”
Ranaudo is not likely to pitch in the Eastern League All-Star Game, since it is only four days before the Futures Game. He is the first Sea Dogs pitcher named to the Futures Game since Junichi Tazawa in 2009. The last Portland pitcher selected to the U.S. team was Clay Buchholz in 2007.
Bogaerts was batting .311 for Portland before his recent promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he has hit four home runs in his first 12 games.
Cecchini arrived with the Sea Dogs last week after batting .350 for Class A Salem.
Britton, Almanzar and Vazquez have been with the Sea Dogs since the start of the season, like Ranaudo. Britton is 6-6 with a 3.74 ERA.
Almanzar is batting .280 and leads the team in home runs (11) and RBI (49). Vazquez has a .224 average and .335 on-base percentage. He has thrown out 45 percent of potential base-stealers (28 of 62), second-best in the league.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: