Among the available methods for predicting free energies of binding of ligands to a protein, the molecular mechanics Poisson-Boltzmann surface area (MM-PBSA) and molecular mechanics generalized Born surface area (MM-GBSA) approaches have been validated for a relatively limited number of targets and compounds in the training set. Here, we report the results of an extensive study on a series of 28 inhibitors of aldose reductase with experimentally determined crystal structures and inhibitory activities, in which we evaluate the ability of MM-PBSA and MM-GBSA methods in predicting binding free energies using a number of different simulation conditions. While none of the methods proved able to predict absolute free energies of binding in quantitative agreement with the experimental values, calculated and experimental free energies of binding were significantly correlated. Comparing the predicted and experimental DeltaG of binding, MM-PBSA proved to perform better than MM-GBSA, and within the MM-PBSA methods, the PBSA of Amber performed similarly to Delphi. In particular, significant relationships between experimental and computed free energies of binding were obtained using Amber PBSA and structures minimized with a distance-dependent dielectric function. Importantly, while free energy predictions are usually made on large collections of equilibrated structures sampled during molecular dynamics in water, we have found that a single minimized structure is a reasonable approximation if relative free energies of binding are to be calculated. This finding is particularly relevant, considering that the generation of equilibrated MD ensembles and the subsequent free energy analysis on multiple snapshots is computationally intensive, while the generation and analysis of a single minimized structure of a protein-ligand complex is relatively fast, and therefore suited for high-throughput virtual screening studies. At this aim, we have developed an automated workflow that integrates all the necessary steps required to generate structures and calculate free energies of binding. The procedure is relatively fast and able to screen automatically and iteratively molecules contained in databases and libraries of compounds. Taken altogether, our results suggest that the workflow can be a valuable tool for ligand identification and optimization, being able to automatically and efficiently refine docking poses, which sometimes may not be accurate, and rank the compounds based on more accurate scoring functions.