Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox batting helmets and bats in the dugout before a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Anthony Ranaudo, SP
Ranaudo made his debut after having his season delayed by a groin strain that placed him in extending spring training. The results were underwhelming, as he gave up two homers, walked three against two strikeouts, and gave up four runs in four innings.
According to Alex Speier, Ranaudo's fastball "ran from 88-94 mph, averaging about 92" but there's no mention of how effective his curve was. Command was a problem, if you couldn't tell from the walks, but given it's his first start since the end of 2011, we can cut him some slack for now.
He's an arm to watch, given his somewhat disappointing stint at High-A and his history of inconsistency both in terms of results and stuff. There are those who think Ranaudo is better-suited to relieve in the majors, and that no matter how hard the Red Sox want him to start, it's not where he'll end up. We're far from knowing which path he's destined for, but more starts like this in the high minors are one way to find out.
Kolbrin Vitek, 3B
Vitek hit .281/.350/.372 in 2011 with the High-A Salem Red Sox. That line wasn't much of a surprise, as he's projected to be more of a patience and average-focused hitter in the future, with more power than he has now, but not a whole lot. That power hasn't come with the move to Double-A, and the 23-year-old is also struggling to hit for average or draw many walks.
He's whiffing over 21 percent of the time, and in his last 10 games is at .262/.295/.429. It's too early to give up on Vitek yet, but given he was a first-round pick at 20th overall in the 2010 draft, you would like to start to see more out of him. Prospects develop at different paces, but when you see a 22-year-old destroying High-A like Jackie Bradley has, or a 23-year-old like Will MIddlebrooks hitting well in the majors, it's easy to get disheartened about someone like Vitek who hasn't put it all together yet.
Like with Ranaudo, whether he will eventually do so is up in the air. But you'd like to see a bit more out of him at Double-A, even if it doesn't involve better power numbers than he's posted in the past.
If the lack of obvious progress from the 23-year-old Vitek was bothersome to you, then you might not want to look at what's happened to the 24-year-old Jeremy Hazelbaker. He's hitting just .194/.275/.250 in his last 10 contests, is striking out over 27 percent of the time, and is struggling to make any kind of consistent or meaningful contact.
Hazelbaker was actually solid at this level in 2011, batting .266/.350/.435 with 35 steals and 33 extra-base hits in 405 plate appearances. The two partial seasons have combined for an overall Double-A line of .252/.336/.398 with punch outs with 138 strikeouts in 526 plate appearances (26 percent). That's the kind of work that gets you stuck at Double-A past your age-24 season.
His past work gives you hope that this is just a blip, possibly in part due to the colder weather that the Sea Dogs need to deal with in the Eastern League to begin the year. But given he's never been considered much of a prospect, and has seen much of his success while old for the levels he's played at, it's likely that Hazelbaker's future isn't in the majors.
He's got a lot of spring and summer left to get through, though, so this won't be the last you see of him in our prospect updates just yet.