Six batters. Six outs, four of them by strikeout.
Yes, Anthony Ranaudo really can pitch.
Ranaudo began the Red Sox major league spring training season Friday with two perfect innings against the Twins. It was another encouraging sign that Ranaudo is well on his way to plugging into his potential.
The top pitching prospect of 2012, Ranaudo became the comeback pitcher of 2013.
In 2014? Let’s just say that spring training won’t be the only time Ranaudo faces major league hitters.
When Ranaudo took part in the Red Sox rookie development camp last January, he seemed a combination of thankful, relieved and determined. He was uttering the “taking it day-by-by” mantra, and for good reason.
After the 2012 season, when Ranaudo was injured often and produced a 1-3 record with a 6.69 ERA with the Portland Sea Dogs, his stock dropped.
Fast forward to 2013. Ranaudo went 8-4 for Portland with a 2.95 ERA.
In May, he pitched a one-hitter over seven innings. Watching that night at Hadlock Field was former Red Sox great Pedro Martinez, now a mentor/instructor for Boston.
“Very impressive to see,” Martinez said at the time. “His fastball has good movement. Lots of swings and misses.”
Even though Ranaudo was promoted to Triple-A in early August, he still was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Only one other Sea Dogs pitcher has won that award since Portland became a Red Sox affiliate: Jon Lester.
Also impressive was Ranaudo’s jump to Triple-A, resulting in a 3-1 record and 2.97 ERA.
“It was as seamless as you could hope for,” said Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett. “Particularly at the end of year, with probably some fatigue settling in. Despite that, he was really consistent. Pounded the strike zone and put up good numbers in Pawtucket.
“He was unfazed by the promotion. He really stuck to what he did well in Portland and it served him well in Pawtucket.”
Ranaudo is apparently unfazed by his first major league spring training. He certainly showed his potential in his first outing.
WHILE RANAUDO made his comeback last year, outfielder Bryce Brentz is looking for redemption this season. Because of injuries on and off the field, Brentz played only 82 games for Pawtucket last year (.264, 17 home runs).
In Friday’s spring training opener, Brentz started in right field and homered to center in the sixth inning.
Brentz could eventually become the power-hitting corner outfielder that the Red Sox are always looking for.
RYAN DENT, a former first-round draft pick of the Red Sox, will remain with the organization after signing a minor league contract with Boston. Dent, who turns 25 this month, has spent the majority of the past three seasons with the Sea Dogs.
Dent’s .257 average in Portland last year was his best above Class A. His versatility and experience make him a valuable addition in the minors.
FORMER SEA DOGS are everywhere. Pitcher Caleb Clay, who reached Triple-A with the Nationals last year, has taken his talents to Korea this season. … Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker got off to a good start with his new organization (the Dodgers), singling in his first spring training at-bat. … Infielder Nick Natoli, who made a couple of brief appearances in Portland the past two seasons, has retired. Natoli, 26, was an undrafted free agent out of Towson State in 2011.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: