Two weeks ago, I asked whether the Yankees should consider drafting dropping right-hander Anthony Ranaudo with their first round pick. Poor performance and injury issues forced a player who was once the presumptive #2 pick down most draft boards, and many had Ranaudo dropping out of the first round. In fact, Keith Law left him out of his mock of the first round one week ago. However, Ranaudo did look better on Wednesday, leading Law to file the following report:
LSU right-hander Anthony Ranaudo hadn’t been the same since taking three weeks to recover from a minor, non-structural elbow injury earlier in the spring, but for the first two innings of his start on Wednesday evening he was back to his old self, mostly 92-94, touching 95 to strike out the last hitter in the first inning, and driving his fastball down in the zone. His curveball was inconsistent but flashed plus, 79-83, and he even threw it to left-handed batters, going at their back feet as if it was a slider with good depth. He also showed a solid-average changeup at 79-84 with good arm speed, although it was clearly his third pitch in his mind. After the second inning, he settled in at more of a 90-92 clip, but held that through the seventh inning before finally tiring in the 8th.
When he was struggling, Ranaudo was leading with his elbow and couldn’t extend his arm out in front as he finished his delivery, but he looked cleaner and freer on Wednesday, getting on top of the ball better and repeating his arm action in back well. The hitch with Ranaudo will be with his medicals, as it’s never been entirely clear what was bothering him; even if it’s no longer an issue, teams will still want to know the full history before giving him a major-league deal and a large bonus — but they’re not likely to get it.
Today, just four days later, Ranaudo pitched 3 innings in relief and looked excellent. He did not allow a hit and struck out 5 while walking 2 to help LSU win the SEC tournament. Keith Law commented on the outing on Twitter, and when I asked him whether Ranaudo was creeping back towards the first round, he said:
I think Ranaudo goes in the first round. Reward good enough for someone to take the risk.
Being that KLaw was the most vocal of pundits about Ranaudo’s fall, I would think that Ranaudo will likely go in the first round. BA has him going to Boston at #20 (h/t to @mikeaxisa), while Frankie Piliere has him going to the Yankees, although it now seems that he may be gone by the time they pick. Now that he has shown some signs of recovery, it may make sense for the Yankees to take a shot on Ranaudo, although that depends on their other options at #32. I would probably still stay away, but would not be furious if they made the high upside play.
What do you think they should do if Ranaudo falls to them?
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