Frankie Piliere chimed in yesterday with an intriguing tweet that caught the eye of many Yankees fans interested in the draft:
Yankees fans I hesitate to say this. I know u too well. But multiple sources say very good shot Ranaudo falls to NYY ala Brackman
The question is whether the Yankees have any interest in Ranaudo, a Boras client, and whether he would be a good pick for them at the end of the first round. Coming into the current college season, Ranaudo (RHP, LSU) was widely considered the top college pitcher in the draft, and was on the short list for the #2 pick after Bryce Harper (see Keith Law’s February rankings). With a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, good curve, and a potentially solid change, he had enough command of his repertoire to be a quick mover for any club that drafted him. However, it is important to note that he was never touted as having an ace-like ceiling. KLaw said the following in a chat in February:
I like Ranaudo, and I think he’s the best college SP in this year’s draft right now (although I think there are a few guys who could pass him), but you are correct that in a normal college crop he wouldn’t be the elite guy. He’s a horse and gets a lot of deception, but I’ve seen him more than once and he’s never shown me ace stuff.
Since then, Ranaudo’s stock has dropped precipitously due to an elbow injury followed by extreme ineffectiveness. At first, the speculation was that LSU was just protecting Ranaudo’s future and that the injury was not serious. He came back and performed fairly well, and about a month ago Law suggested that he was likely still a top-5 pick. Unfortunately for Ranaudo, the last month has been a disaster. Here is the most recent report on the LSU righty, from ESPN’s Jason Churchill:
The poor results are piling up for the Tigers’ ace and his draft stock has certainly taken a major hit.
“I’m not sure there’s enough time left for him to kind of re-convince clubs that this is the anomaly,” says one front office executive. “Track record is important, but ‘what have you done for me lately’ will win out more often.”
After eight starts, Ranaudo now has an 11.14 ERA in 26 2/3 innings, having allowing 33 earned runs on 41 hits. He has surrendered 16 extra-base hits, including six home runs. All of this suggests command is at least part of the problem, but scouts have mentioned other possibilities such as out-of-sync mechanics, the loss of movement on his fastball and lack of consistency with his off-speed stuff. Some wonder if he’s still being bothered by the sore elbow that kept him out for more than a month at the beginning of the season, and one scouting coordinator thinks that Ranaudo may be giving away his pitches.
And so, once again the Yankees may be forced to decide whether upside trumps risk of injury, much as they did with Joba Chamberlain and Andrew Brackman. However, it is important to note some differences between Ranaudo and Brackman in particular. If healthy, Ranaudo has a lower ceiling then Brackman, but has a much higher floor. That makes him a significantly less risky pick talent-wise, as health aside, he gives the Yankees a much better chance of a successful pick. He has frequently been described as a “horse” who can be a #2 in most rotations and could reach the majors fairly rapidly. Unlike Brackman, he has put together some impressive college seasons, working as the ace for a premier college program. The flip side is that his lower upside may not make him worth a first round pick once the health considerations are factored in. The Yankees could get a healthy talent with similar upside with their pick, and avoid having another selection flop without ever seeing the majors. As Keith Law said last week:
How could you take him in the first round unless you know he’s healthy? And what are the odds teams get to examine his elbow or at least his medical records before the draft? Answer: Not good. If he’s not lights-out at the SEC tournament, I’d probably pass on him in the first round because of the opportunity cost.
It is a tough call, but I would lean away from taking Ranaudo barring a solid showing in the SEC tourney and spotless medicals upon examination. Although shallow at the top, this is a fairly deep draft, and the Yankees should have some better, healthier options come their way at the tail end of the first round. What would you do?
I just noticed that Pending Pinstripes chimed in on this today as well. Check it out here.