Anthony Ranaudo, SP
Things haven't turned around for Anthony Ranaudo yet, in what's been a rough sophomore campaign for the 2010 first rounder. He's lasted three innings or fewer in three of his last four starts, and has 10 walks against nine strikeouts in that stretch. The 22-year-old doesn't have a whole lot of 2012 to go on, since his season began late due to injury, but what he's shown while around has not been promising.
That being said, it's early, both in his age and his career. He's 22 and in Double-A, after just 127 innings in the minors prior to 2012. It is fair to question his being at this level already, given he didn't blow anyone away in his 81 innings at High-A Salem, but taking it all out on Ranaudo at this stage probably isn't the right thing to do. He's got impressive stuff, but harnessing it consistently has been an issue. Time is what he needs, and it's what we need before we can gauge his career's trajectory accurately.
Stolmy Pimentel, SP
It might seem odd to preach patience with one 22-year-old hurler at Double-A, and then turn around and criticize another, but there's more context to the situation than that. Ranaudo gets a pass for a few reasons: he's in just his second year professionally, and he's not on the 40-man roster. Stolmy Pimentel is on the 40, and is in the midst of his sixth season. Also, unlike Ranaudo, Pimentel's most recent success isn't more than two seasons ago.
In the last month, a stretch covering five starts and 27-1/3 innings, Pimentel has allowed 21 runs (6.92 ERA), struck out 16 (5.3 per nine), and walked nine (3.0 per nine). This after a promising start to the year, but the more his recent work resembles his horrific 2011, the tougher it is to believe there was much there to dream on. In 112 total innings at Double-A, Pimentel owns a 7.31 ERA and 1.5 K/BB, and, by more than a full strikeout, has his worst punch out rate as a professional.
The fact he's on the 40-man, at a time when the Red Sox are in desperate need of open space on that roster, is likely not a good thing for Pimentel. The good news -- well, sort of -- is that if the Sox do indeed designate him to remove him from the 40, he just might sneak through unclaimed, as he hasn't been consistently productive since 2010, and would require a 40-man spot on his new club as well. It's unknown if Boston will bump him off of the 40-man in the coming weeks, but he's certainly an option if he continues to pitch like he has as of late.
Chris Balcom-Miller, SP
The Red Sox tried to use Chris Balcom-Miller as a starter after acquiring him from the Rockies in 2010, and while that worked at the lower levels, Double-A has been an entirely different story. That's likely why, back on June 19, Balcom-Miller came into a game in relief. His last six appearances have all come out of the pen, and while he's still showing some length in those appearances -- he threw five innings last time out -- it's becoming clear that the Red Sox scouts agree with the prospect gurus, in that Balcom-Miller's eventual role is that of a reliever.
It's not a huge surprise, as Balcom-Miller relies heavily on his fastball and his command of it, as the pitch has velocity and movement working in its favor, and is easily the most reliable of his three offerings. Things aren't quite working out for him in relief just yet, but he's new to the role. Given time, his grounder tendencies should help him shine out of the pen, which is more than can be said for the arm he was acquired for in his last few seasons.