For those of you unfamiliar with Ryan Westmoreland, his story is less about baseball than triumphing over great hardship. Whether he ever makes it to the majors or not, his hard work, fearlessness, and passion for the game of baseball should prove inspiring to many.

Ryan Westmoreland grew up a Red Sox fan while living in Rhode Island. He dreamed of playing baseball professionally under the bright lights at Fenway Park, as so many young boys do. Westmoreland was particularly talented and excelled at hitting. While playing ball at Portsmouth High School, he was named Rhode Island’s Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2008. The opportunity to play professional baseball would soon become a reality.

In 2008, Westmoreland was drafted in the 5th round out of high school. He received a $1,604,000 signing bonus and would earn $2 million over 5 years; enough to dissuade him from going to college. He made his professional debut on June 19th, 2009 for the single-A Lowell Spinners. He hit .296/.401/.484 with 7 homeruns in 60 games, before breaking his collarbone which would require surgery.

By the end of the year, he was rated as the Red Sox best positional prospect. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Ryan as the 32nd best prospect in baseball and former Red Sox Scouting Director Jason McLeod (Now working under Theo Epstein with the Chicago Cubs) had said that Westmoreland had the highest upside of any player he had scouted in his 5 years with the organization. Drawing comparisons to Grady Sizemore, www.SoxProspects.com had this to say about his skillset:

“A true five-tool talent with tremendous upside. Sturdy, athletic build with the ability to add strength.  Open stance. Keeps his hands high around his helmet and goes into a bit of a crouch as the ball approaches. Smooth and quick swing. Patient and selective – waits for his pitch. Above average power potential with a terrific approach. Hits to all fields.  Elite speed with excellent base-running skills. Strong arm with excellent outfield range. Very intelligent”

In the spring of 2010, Ryan’s bright future took a grim turn. Westmoreland began experiencing headaches and numbness on the right side of his head. On March 5th, he was diagnosed with a “cavernous malformation of the brain.” Ryan had experienced bleeding in the tumor. If the tumor bled again, he could lose his vision and motor skills, and could even die. And it did bleed again. Continue reading »

By SBRForum.com

Sure, injuries are a part of any game, but sometimes it gets near ridiculous, when a slew of ‘em hit one particular team. That’s been the case with the Boston Red Sox so far this season, whose problems began before the season even started.

That’s part of the reason why the Sox started so slowly this season, and makes their recent resurgence even more impressive.

It also begs the question, among baseball fans, “How have the various ailments of the many maimed Red Sox affected Boston’s MLB odds?”

Right Out of the Box

As we recall the Sox lost closer Jonathan Papelbon to free agency over the winter, so in the quest to replace him they traded for Andrew Bailey. But he didn’t even make it on the team flight North after Spring training, due to a sprained thumb. He’s been on the DL ever since, and isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.

Then outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury dislocated his shoulder in the seventh game of the season and is now on the 60-day DL.

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With the June 4th First Year Player Draft quickly approaching, we at Bloody Sox decided to do a Draft preview.

First of all, as you may or not know, the Draft rules have changed.  Set bonus pools are now in place. The Red Sox have a bonus pool of $6,884,800 to spend in the first ten rounds. Last year, the bonuses in the first ten rounds added up to over 10M.

Thus, the Red Sox and teams in general might be less inclined to spend their first couple of picks on expensive signability players,  like Blake Swihart in 2011, who the Sox signed to a 2.5M bonus. The Red Sox usually pick the best player available, but they might go with some ‘easier to sign’ guys in the first round. This draft class is significantly weaker than last year’s, but like every class, good players are up for grabs. The Red Sox pick 24th, 31st and 37th on day 1, so it should be fun anyway.

Jim Callis (Baseball America) had the Red Sox picking  HS SS/3B Tanner Rahier at #24, and HS RHP Zach Eflin at #31.

Keith Law (ESPN) has Texas A&M OF Tyler Naquin at #24 and Duke RHP Marcus Stroman at #31.

Both experts are some of the best in the business, but they both have vastly different opinions on this one. Predicting the draft in very difficult as rumors usually start to float the day before Draft day. I see the Red Sox going for two college players in the first round and a slipping high upside HS pitcher in the supplemental round. Early rumors have the Red Sox interested in Rahier and Eflin, so Callis’ mock would make sense, but I don’t see the Sox taking two high school players in the first round. As for Law’s mock: Naquin should be a fairly easy sign at #24 and I could see it happen, but I certainly don’t expect Stroman to last that long. He’s basically a reliever, but he sure is an elite one and should pitch in the Major Leagues as soon as 2013 (think Drew Storen and Chris Sale).

My picks:

24) Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern, (Baseball America’s 22nd draft prospect). Victor Roache is this year’s Jackie Bradley Jr. Jackie slipped in 2011 due to injury and ineffectiveness and the Red Sox sneaked in and picked him up in the supplemental round.

Enter Victor Roache, who plays in a fairly big program and would’ve likely been a top 15 pick if he didn’t break his wrist at the start of the season. He’s a big power guy, and  a decent outfielder for his size. He does have bad K rates, but it’s hard to pass up on a talent like him.

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Time: 7:10 PM ET

TV/Radio: NESN/WRKO

Red Sox (26-24)
Podesednik CF
Nava LF
Gonzalez 1B
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 3B
Saltalamacchia C
Sweeney RF
Aviles SS
Punto 2B
Pitching: RHP Josh Beckett (4-4, 4.15 ERA)

Tigers (23-27)
Berry CF
Boesch RF
Cabrera 3B
Fielder 1B
Young DH
Avila C
Peralta SS
Kelly LF
Worth 2B
Pitching: RHP Max Scherzer (4-3, 5.67 ERA)

The last time we talked to Travis Shaw was after he was drafted by the Red Sox in the 9th round of last year’s draft. At the time he was just an unknown corner infielder out of Kent State.

Now, he’s in high A and dominating the competition. So far this year, Shaw is hitting .340/.418/.535 with 4 home runs, 15 doubles, and 3 triples in 44 games for the Salem Red Sox. What’s even more impressive is how well Shaw has hit lefties this year. Although he’s a lefty, he’s hitting .444/.469/.800 with 3 home runs and 7 doubles in 40 at bats. Small sample size sure, but impressive nonetheless.

The way Shaw has been hitting, it’ll be hard to keep him in A ball for much longer. Should he get a chance at Double A this year, watch out for him to start gaining the attention he deserves.

Travis Shaw

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If only Lars could play second base…

Time: 7:10 PM ET

TV/Radio: NESN/WRKO

Red Sox (25-24)
Nava LF
Aviles SS
Gonzalez RF
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Byrd CF
Shoppach C
Punto 2B
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (3-4, 4.72)

Tigers (23-26)
Berry CF
Worth 2B
Cabrera 3B
Fielder 1B
Young LF
Boesch RF
Peralta SS
Avila C
Laird DH
Pitching: LHP Drew Smyly (2-1, 3.14)

Keith Couch is one of the more intriguing Red Sox pitching prospects right now, and is currently pitching for the high A Salem Red Sox. Last year he went 7-5 with a 3.54 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and 123 strikeouts in 137.1 IP for the Greenville Drive.

This year, he’s 4-3 with a 3.52 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP, and 43 strikeouts in 46 inning for the Salem Red Sox. His FIP is 3.11, which is very impressive and suggests that he’s been better than his ERA suggests.

He throws a 90-93 MPH sinker, a 77 MPH curveball, and a low 80s changeup that still need work. He’s most likely suited for the bullpen, but it’s too early to say for sure. He’s one of the more underrated Red Sox prospects right now, and hopefully he gets talked about more going forward.

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According to WEEI, Dustin Pedroia has a muscle tear in his right thumb. Pedroia said last night that he injured his thumb around three weeks ago when he was hitting. According to him, it was re-aggravated last night.

The Red Sox will decide today whether or not to place Pedroia on the 15 day DL. Pedroia will see how much the swelling has gone down today and see if he would be able to hit with a brace on his thumb. Pedroia said that if they decide that he can’t play, he’ll likely be out for a month.

Pedroia was optimistic about the injury. “We’re still talking about it. Hopefully the swelling and stuff goes down and I won’t miss that much time. I don’t have to show them anything. I’ve played with injuries before. It’s just a matter of me being able to swing with a brace on it or something. So I’m going to go get something made, see how it feels and if I can’t do it then I think it’s 3-4 weeks. Hopefully it’s not that.”

Ben Cherington made it clear that Pedroia’s injury isn’t as bad as the injury Youkilis sustained in 2010. Pedroia’s injury didn’t involve a tendon like Youkilis’s did, and according to Pedroia he was lucky that the tear was in a meaty part of his thumb, or it would have been a lot worse.

Should Pedroia hit the DL, it is unclear what the Red Sox will do in response to the injury. I think they should bring up Jose Iglesias (if they deem him healthy, of course), but Iggy has missed the last few games with a back injury and it’s unclear if he’s going to be able to play in time. Pedro Ciriaco is another good option. He’s currently hitting .304/.324/.399 with 2 home runs, 5 doubles, and a triple in 33 games. They could also make Punto a regular starter, but then again, that would be awful.

By SBRForum.com

Last week we took a look at the Red Sox pitching staff and its performance so far in 2012. This week we’ll take a peek at Boston’s bats, and how their performance is affecting their MLB betting odds.

Still Dangerous

The Sox have suffered through their share of injuries already this season to members of their everyday starting lineup, and still almost every other team in baseball envies the lineup Boston is able to field.

Even without Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford and with several regulars missing various amounts of action due to injuries the Red Sox remain one of the most dangerous offensive outfits in baseball.

Through Monday’s play Boston ranked seventh in the Majors in team OBP at .331, seventh in home runs with 60 and third in scoring at a healthy 5.3 runs per game.

That’s why, in part, the Red Sox have gone 28-19 on the ‘over/unders’ this season.

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