A lot of attention has been heaped this spring training on the Boston Red Sox’s young pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. Although he has flown under the radar, Brandon Workman is another of the team’s young pitchers who is nearly ready for the majors.
Workman is a big (6’6”) right-hander who was originally taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the third round of the 2007 draft. He passed on signing with them in order to attend the University of Texas.
He starred at Texas, combining for a 20-9 record and 3.78 ERA in his three seasons in Austin.
The youngster’s decision to go to school also paid off for the Red Sox, as they made him a second-round choice in the 2010 draft. He signed with them for an $800,000 bonus, according to Baseball America’s Jim Callis.
SoxProspects.com described Workman’s arsenal after the draft as a low-90s fastball with a developing curveball and changeup and a major league future that was likely in relieving.
To date, the 24-year-old Workman has started all 51 of the professional games in which he has appeared. He’s combined for a 16-15 record and 3.60 ERA, while averaging 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and reaching as high as Double-A at the end of last season.
He also has excellent control, having walked just 1.9 batters per nine innings during his professional career.
In 2012, Workman went a combined 10-8 with a 3.50 ERA between high Single-A and Double-A. His efforts resulted in being named Boston’s minor league pitcher of the year.
The pitch that may allow Workman to remain as a viable candidate for Boston’s future rotation is a cut fastball, according to WEEI’s Alex Speier. It may actually now be his best pitch, even though the prospect explained that the Red Sox only recently allowed him to start using it regularly:
I didn’t throw it probably the first three-quarters of the season . At that point, I didn’t have the best command of my curveball and my changeup was borderline non-existent. [The Red Sox] didn’t want me to be able to use the cutter as a crutch, if you will, and not force me to throw my curveball for a strike and learn to throw my changeup.
If you look at it short-sighted, it was frustrating…But I was able to look big picture on it. I know that down the road, having a fastball and cutter wasn’t going to cut it for me. So it was great, because it did force me to be able to throw my curveball over and over until I found a way to be able to locate it, and it forced me to throw a changeup, which I Had never really done in my career.
Honing a more varied arsenal will only help Workman remain as a starter. He’s nearly ready for his major league debut and when he gets to Boston, it will be up to him to prove whether or not he can stick.
He’s expected to start 2013 with Double-A Portland. But he got his first major league start in spring training on Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies, according to a tweet by CSNNE.com’s Maureen Mullen:
Workman held his own in the start, allowing three hits, two walks and two runs in three innings while striking out one.
He may not receive as much publicity as other Boston pitching prospects, but Workman is also on the verge of getting his shot with the Red Sox. The talent is clearly there, so only time will tell if he can produce and become synonymous with the organization’s other top arms.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference