PORTLAND – Pitchers really have impressed recently at Hadlock Field.

But not the pitcher expected to make the biggest impact on the 2012 Sea Dogs.

In fact, Anthony Ranaudo is no longer in Portland. The Red Sox shipped him to their training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

Ranaudo, 22, has had a season to forget.

He began it on the disabled list with a slight groin muscle strain.

Activated on May 15, Ranaudo rarely showed the form that made him Boston’s top pitching prospect.

In nine starts he was 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA.

One of his worst outings was his last on July 3, when he allowed seven hits and five runs in three innings. His fastball, up to 97 mph in spring training, was closer to 90.

“Everything is fine,” Ranaudo said at the time. “Probably just a little dead arm.”

That wasn’t fine with the Red Sox. Ranaudo went back to the disabled list. He remained with the Sea Dogs, rehabbing his tired arm.

Manager Kevin Boles occasionally would say Ranaudo was getting stronger, but he never returned to the mound. During the last road trip, Ranaudo left for Fort Myers.

“He’s progressing well, feeling stronger and continuing to work hard,” said Boston’s director of player development, Ben Crockett.

Crockett didn’t offer a timetable for Ranaudo. He’s done for the season, but there’s a possibility he could pitch in the Arizona Fall League or a winter league.

“Whatever the plan is, I’ll embrace it,” Ranaudo said before he left.

Ranaudo has gone from being a high-priced signing ($2.5 million) in 2010, to a 9-6 record last year in Class A, to this season.

“It’s a learning experience,” Ranaudo said. “Hopefully I can look back and say I’ve been through tough times (and recovered).

“Hopefully I’ll learn from it and come back stronger and put this kind of stuff behind me, and move on.”

ONE FACTOR THAT has made this season easier for Ranaudo is the presence of his friend and high school teammate Jayson Hernandez in Portland.

Hernandez was the Sea Dogs’ No. 3 catcher until being sent to Class A Salem last week.

Both players attended St. Rose High in Belmar, N.J. Hernandez was a year older and was Ranaudo’s ride to practice.

“Jay actually taught me a lot,” Ranaudo said. “He was kind of like my mentor.”

Hernandez attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., before transferring closer to home at Rutgers.

Ranaudo headed to Louisiana State.

Ranaudo was one of the darlings of the 2010 draft, but Hernandez intrigued some teams after batting .312 his senior year.

The Red Sox drafted Ranaudo in the supplemental round (39th overall) and grabbed Hernandez in the 41st round.

Soon the two friends were on the phone.

“We were ecstatic,” Hernandez said. “It was an awesome day.”

HERNANDEZ HAS ONE of the most difficult jobs on a minor league team. Inactive most of the season, he does all the drills, takes batting practice and catches endless bullpen sessions.

But he rarely gets to play. He played in Lowell and Greenville last year, batting .251. He skipped Salem this year and landed in Double-A, but played in only seven games.

“Yeah, it’s been tough,” Hernandez said before he was activated and sent to Salem. “It’s been a grind. I come out here every day and work as hard as I can. The way I look at it is I can only control what I can control.

“I can control my work ethic. I can control how I do in batting practice, how I carry myself. Part of being a complete professional.”

That professional attitude has been noticed.

“It can very tough and he’s a guy that’s handled it,” Boles said.

“When he’s gotten an opportunity, he’s attacked the game and done well.”

ATTITUDE PLAYS such a huge role in the minors, whether a player is playing or not playing, or getting into games and struggling.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is keeping his head up.

After a quick start with the Sea Dogs in June (batting .350), he’s cooled down and was hitting .192 in August through Friday.

“Just a grind,” Bradley said. “Got to keep making adjustments here and there.”

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: 

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases