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. (more…)