For starters: Ryan Westmoreland is a 19-year-old outfielder who was ranked as the #1 Prospect in the Red Sox Minor League system by Baseball America entering the 2010 season. A left- handed batter and right-handed thrower, Westmoreland was seleccted in the 5th round of the 2008 draft by the Boston Red Sox from Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island. Originally planning on attending Vanderbilt, Westmoreland received a $2,000,000 bonus and played his first season of professional baseball in 2009, hitting .296, with a .401 OBP and .484 SLG for the Short-Season Lowell Spinners.
According to Baseball America, given that "His skills are just as impressive as his considerable tools," it was hard to temper expectations on Westmoreland and projected that Ryan was "a potential 30-30 player who one day could bat third in the Boston lineup." Ryan was projected to begin the season at Class A Greenville, and likely earn a promotion to the High A Salem Red Sox by the season's end.
Unfortunately, now it is an open question whether or not Ryan will ever play baseball again. During spring training, it was discovered that Ryan had a cavernous malformation in his brain. He underwent surgery to remove the malformation on March 16 in Arizona and has now begun his long road to recovery.
Whether or not Ryan ever returns to baseball, it looks clear that his life is no longer in danger, which is certainly the most important thing. But Westmoreland isn't satisfied with that, and has dedicated himself to realizing the potential that made Baseball America project him as one of the top prospects in baseball, telling his father "I'm going to be in Portland next year," a reference to the home of the Portland Sea Dogs, the AA-affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
I, for one, do not doubt Ryan's willpower or committment and I am almost certain that he will regain his elite skills in time to return to play in the 2011 season. For now, it is just good to see him out and about and in good spirits. Ryan was seen at Fenway Park for the Red Sox opening day game against the New York Yankees in GM Theo Epstein's box.
Here's a picture of Westmoreland on Opening Night...
Now, for some of Ryan's cards...
2008 TriStar Prospects Plus
2010 Topps Pro Debut
2010 Topps Pro Debut Single-A All-Stars