A new era may begin for the Boston Red Sox Sunday, as Allen Webster, one of the team’s top pitching prospects, will make his major league debut.
The Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman first reported in a tweet that Webster was being summoned from Triple-A Pawtucket to make a start in Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals:
Allen Webster to pitch Game 2 tomorrow. #redsox— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) April 20, 2013
The story was confirmed in a tweet by CSNNE.com’s Maureen Mullen:
Allen Webster era starts tomorrow. Will start game 2 of DH. #RedSoxTalk— Maureen Mullen (@MaureenaMullen) April 20, 2013
MLB.com has him ranked as the 71st-best prospect in baseball.
Possessing a high-90s fastball, he was one of the most impressive players in spring training this year, but was sent to the minors to start the season because he had never before played above Double-A.
Although it was just two games, Webster was off to a strong start for Pawtucket. He doesn’t have a decision, but has posted a 0.90 ERA over 10 innings, while striking out 12 batters and allowing just seven hits.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported that scouts have little to say in the way of negativity about the prospect:
According to scouts, Webster has been throwing 97-99 miles per hour, overwhelming Triple-A hitters. If he has one flaw, according to one scout, it is that he still hasn’t learned to waste a pitch. He sometimes throws his changeup for strikes or makes it "too good," according to one American League scout.
According to The Boston Globe’s Julian Benbow, Webster has five pitches in his arsenal. Boston director of player development Ben Crockett explained that increased command has been key to his growth as a pitcher:
His fastball moves so much that he doesn’t necessarily have to be really fine with it, throwing it to the black at all times. Because of the late action and the velocity that he has on that pitch, he has the luxury of probably pitching a little bit more to the halves of the plate or the thirds of the plate than the corners, like some guys need to.
It’s expected that Webster will be sent back to Pawtucket once the game is over. The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton reported that the Red Sox are taking advantage of baseball’s 26th-man loophole for doubleheaders that allows an extra player to be activated without a corresponding deactivation, as long as that player is sent back down afterward.
Britton also indicated that the move is being made to allow left-hander Felix Doubront to pitch Wednesday instead of needing an extra starter that day or having Clay Buchholz pitch on short rest.
Webster will pitch Game 2 of the doubleheader after veteran Ryan Dempster takes the mound for Game 1.
When asked by WEEI’s Rob Bradford why Webster was chosen for the start, Boston manager John Farrell responded simply: “He’s a really good-looking young pitcher. And he’s rested and ready to go.”
At least initially, Webster’s stay in Boston will be short-lived. However, if he pitches well and continues to dominate in the minors, it should only be a matter of time before he is up for good and a staple at Fenway Park.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference