Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
Ranaudo represented the Red Sox in Wednesday's Double-A All-Star Game, throwing an inning, but it wasn't a good one. He walked three batters, struck out one, and allowed a homer and three runs. Don't worry, Anthony: you've still got the Futures Game to make up for it.
More importantly, though, Ranaudo has just been okay of late. Including Wednesday's appearance, he has 12 walks against 13 strikeouts in his last 19 innings, and while it hasn't harmed his ERA much yet, given Ranaudo's history of slowing down as the year goes on, it's worth paying attention to what could be a slide. It's certainly too early to panic, and Ranaudo might just be dealing with some mid-season fatigue after missing most of last season. But, as said, it bears watching.
Michael Almanzar, 3B
Almanzar hasn't been bad recently, he just hasn't been as good as he was earlier in the season. He's scuffled a bit in July, and has hit .278/.366/.361 over his last 10 games. The only reason this actually matters is that the Sox need Almanzar to keep it up for the rest of the month, in case he's a trade chip that can be leveraged before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Almanzar needs 40-man roster protection this off-season, and the Sox don't have anywhere to put him on their 40 given he's not quite big-league ready yet. That won't stop someone else from having a spot, though, and that means he's a believable piece to deal now before he's lost for nothing.
He's young enough that, even if he loses a year of development sitting on a bench (when his new team isn't hiding him on rehab assignments in Triple-A, I mean), he can bounce back and continue along the path he's brought himself back to since 2012. Plus, with the Red Sox logjam at third base in the upper minors and in the majors, it just makes sense to deal Almanzar if the Sox can find a taker that will give them a piece they need for 2013. Prospects aren't only for promoting, you know.
Keith Couch, RHP
Couch has had a bit of an up-and-down 2013, but he's come around of late. He's struck out 23 batters in 31 innings since returning to the Portland rotation in June, all while walking 10 batters, allowing just one homer, and posting an ERA of 2.32. It's a small sample, of course, but it looks as if Couch might have taken something he learned from pitching in the pen and applied it to his work as a starter. That seasonal strikeout rate won't stay where it is for the rest of the season if he remains in the rotation, but that's not his only weapon, either: Couch induces ground outs in bunches, and that hasn't changed since he switched back to starting.
His future is still likely in relief, but it's good to see him pitching well enough as a starter that can be stick in the role while at Double-A. The longer he can stay as a starter, the more innings he can throw in preparation for an eventual MLB relief role.
Read more Red Sox:
- What to expect from Red Sox prospect Brandon Workman
- It's time for change in the Red Sox rotation
- MLB Trade Deadline: How can the Red Sox fix their bullpen?
- Should the Red Sox sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia to an extension?
- The sustainable side of Jose Iglesias’ success at the plate