Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes are considered the top starting pitching prospects in the Red Sox organization. While Ranaudo awaits his 2012 regular season debut, Barnes has already earned a promotion.
The 21-year-old Barnes, who was selected in the first round (19th overall) last year out of the University of Connecticut, was summoned to advanced Single-A Salem (Va.) from Single-A Greenville. He started his professional career with 26.2 scoreless innings at Greenville in the South Atlantic League. Barnes was charged with his first run in Sunday’s start, when he allowed one run and three hits with eight strikeouts over 5.2 innings.
That run wasn’t scored from a pitch that Barnes threw. He allowed a baserunner in the sixth via a single, and the run was plated after reliever Hunter Cervenka entered.
Over 26.2 innings at Greenville, Barnes allowed one run and 12 hits while striking out 42 and walking just four. His ERA was 0.34 and his WHIP 0.60.
Barnes will receive a stronger test from Carolina League batters, many of whom are top draft picks from college. Barnes entered the season with an arsenal of plus pitches, including a mid-90s fast ball, a curve ball and a change-up. The latter offering is now more effective since he switched from a four-seam grip to a two-seam circle change grip, Barnes told MLB.com.
Because of his college experience, Barnes is a pitcher who can rapidly ascend the Red Sox farm system. The 22-year-old Ranaudo, who was Boston’s first round pick out of LSU in 2010, is in his second year of professional baseball and is currently in extended spring training rehabbing from an injury. He is expected to join the Double-A Portland rotation in mid-May and could see time at Triple-A Pawtucket if he pitches well for the Sea Dogs.
Barnes and Ranaudo each have a high ceiling. With them, along with the high ceiling of Daniel Bard plus Felix Doubront’s potential to serve as a reliable back of the rotation arm for the long term, Boston’s in-house starting pitching options are exciting.