Interview By Rodger M. Wood
Baseball America named Ryan Westmoreland the 2010 Boston Red Sox #1 minor league prospect,. The 19-year old outfielder’s left handed bat exploded his first exposure to professional baseball at short season Lowell in the Rookie NY/Penn League last season.
In a league characterized by mostly college pitchers and position players, Westmoreland hit a respectable 296 BA, and showed a lot of power potential with 15 doubles, 3 triples, and 7 HR, while driving in 35 RBI in 223 AB his first 60 games. He worked opposing pitchers into 38 walks while striking out 49 times. He showed good speed stealing 19 bases,
Ryan earned all state soccer, baseball, and basketball laurels at Portsmouth High School (RI)
and was committed to Vanderbilt University baseball before drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 Amateur Draft and signed by the Red Sox for $2 million .
Injuring a shoulder after the draft, the youngster missed the 2008 season, instructional camp, and 2009 spring training. Only designated hitting until the last two weeks of this season, he was not able to show the outfield skills many scouts rated as outstanding in high school. .
I interviewed Ryan at Cal Ripken Stadium, Aberdeen, MD last August.
SP: Growing up in nearby Portsmouth RI you had to be a Boston Red Sox fan when young?
RW: As long as I can remember, I dreamed about being a Red Sox. Being drafted by my favorite team
was awesome and a dream come true. I remembering playing in the state high school championship
game at McCoy Field my senior year thinking about playing for the Red Sox there again and at
Fenway Park some day.
SP: Did growing up in cold weather slow down your development?
RW: I think the cold weather was a definite disadvantage. Ballplayers growing up in Florida and
California can play baseball 12 months a year. It is better working outdoors than inside a gym.
Our high school season started out doors in April and ended in September.. I think ball players
from the Northeast have as much talent but their development is slowed down by the climate. On the
other hand, they may be throwing and pitching less and not overusing their arms.
SP: Were you surprised the Red Sox drafted you in spite of your commitment to Vanderbilt?
RW: The Red Sox were at a lot of my high school and summer league games, but so were other teams.
I was committed to Vanderbilt University for a 4-year baseball scholarship and that could have been
a factor which turned teams off. I didn’t know what to expect in the draft. When the team I grew up
loving drafted me, I was overwhelmed.
SP: Do you ever wish you had gone to Vanderbilt instead of signing with the Red Sox?
RW: I have no regrets. My signing out of high school is not a reflection on Vanderbilt. They have a
great coach, good baseball, and an outstanding academic program, but signing with the Red Sox
out of high school, was my shortest path to the majors. I would have had to wait until after my
junior year if I had gone to Vanderbilt. Boston is going to pay my college tuition if I decide to
attend college later.
SP: An all state soccer and basketball player in high school as well as baseball player, why did you
choose baseball over the other sports.
RW: It was baseball I truly loved. It was my #1 priority in high school. Soccer and basketball helped me
to stay in shape for baseball. I could forget about baseball for awhile during the other sports‘
seasons, relax and focus on the other sports. I had different teammates in each sport, who helped me
get my mind off the college recruitment which was very busy my senior year. I chose to play soccer
in the Fall instead of football because the soccer coach was a great person.
SP: Do you think missing last summer and fall, and dh at Lowell set you back much in your
RW: I didn’t get a chance to prove myself in my first spring training. I’m only glad I signed aw an 18
years old, or else I would have been set back even further. While my shoulder feels pretty good
now, I was limited some ways most of the 2009 season , for example, hitting the cutoff man,
swinging a stronger bat, keeping my outfield instincts sharp, but now my strength is coming back
through special exercises I’ve been doing and my defensive outfield skills through playing the last
SP: Are you only dh this season?
RW: I’ve been dh most of the season. The last four or five games I’ve played in left field.
Slowly but surely, I am starting to see and get a better jump on the ball off the bat better,
and bring back my instincts on how to field.
SP: What do you think is your natural outfield position?
RW: I played centerfield in Little League, high school, and summer ball so it’s a little of adjustment
playing left this season. I think center is my natural position and when my shoulder is fully
recovered the Red Sox may move me back there. I think I have good range there, speed, I like
being the outfield leader, get my best jump off the ball and am most comfortable there.
SP: A 19 -year old going against some older college pitchers, how do you explain your strong
showing at the plate at Lowell this season.
RW: I’ve always had good plate discipline, work the count, try to make the pitcher feel
uncomfortable, and make them throw their best pitch to get me out. Red Sox hitting coach,
Luis Lopez helped me recognize college curve balls and change ups and use the power of
my lower body better.
SP: Do Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Che-Hsuan Lin and the other young Red Sox
outfielder prospects discourage you about playing at Fenway someday?
RW: .I can’t let that affect my thinking. Those thoughts can affect your game and I only worry about
things I can control. The competition between good players for a position is good for the Red
Sox. The more good young outfielders we have the better the team will be..
SP: What are the Red Sox coaches working with you on this season?
RW: They’re trying to get me to do a lot of little things right, like backing up the bases the Red Sox way,
hit the right cutoff/relay man, recognizing the pitch off the pitcher’s hand, recognizing off speed
pitches sooner and better, and laying off the low curve ball. Pitch. They are trying to get me to
incorporate my lower part of my swing into the ball better.
SP: Only 18 when drafted last year, was it tough packing up and leaving home.
RW: I was already packed for Vanderbilt, but it was hectic after I decided to sign with the Red Sox. It
was the first time I moved away home but my family, and friends, helped me get through the
process. , .
SP: What has been your toughest adjustment so far in professional baseball?
RW: Playing every day in professional ball has been the toughest. In high school, I played a 22 game
schedule, which wasn’t that tough to handle, but to be mentally and physically ready for 86 games
and later a 126 games in a full season is a tough adjustment. In high school, I didn‘t have any
difficulty keeping things on the outside from affecting my game..