This guy was made to be a part of the Boston Red Sox. First, he was born in New England, Portsmouth, R.I., to be exact. Second, he is a scrappy five-tool player with the type of attitude the Red Sox are always looking for in players. Just look at Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis and you know the type of player they like, and they have had a lot of success with this formula.
The Red Sox drafted Westmoreland in the fifth round of the 2008 draft and instantly he acclimated to professional baseball, hitting .296 with 25 extra base hits and 19 stolen bases at low A ball. Westmoreland showed he truly possessed all five tools to become a great all-around player. The excitement surrounding this potential future All-Star quickly turned to worry when it was discovered that he needed to have brain surgery right before the 2010 season was set to get underway.
Westmoreland had a cavernous malformation of the brain that needed to be removed. Often this type of brain damage can be misdiagnosed and eventually cause severe neurological damage, so he was lucky to catch it early enough. Now the question on everyone’s mind was not when he will be in the majors, but rather, will he ever even play baseball again?
How he will affect the franchise
There was a similar story in the Red Sox organization that ended up being very positive in the end. In 2006, Jon Lester was diagnosed and started treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His return to the game, and ultimate domination of the league a year later, left everyone in awe of how heroically he bounced back from such a serious illness. Not only did Lester come back, but he went on to be the winning pitcher in the series, clinching Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, and becoming a top pitcher the league from 2008 until the present.
Westmoreland’s cavernous malformation will be a tougher injury to bounce back from, but all signs are pointing towards a full recovery and a return to baseball. Just over the past year, Westmoreland was able to be at a live batting practice to track balls and participate in other drills. His one goal for this year was to get an at-bat in a live game, which unfortunately did not happen. The fact that he can even be this close to rejoining the team is a miracle in itself.
If he can eventually live up to his potential from two years ago, we could see a five-tool outfielder that will join the ranks of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford next to the Green Monster. Just the return alone will inspire the Red Sox to never give in, which could spell trouble for the rest of the league, which is already cowering in the shadow of the BoSox.
If Westmoreland can truly make a full recovery he has the chance to become a special player. Many believe that he has the ability to be a 30/30 player (30 home runs and 30 stolen bases). If he is able to become this player that he was once projected to be, he will join Ellsbury, Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford in a potent offensive lineup that features multiple All-Stars annually and makes the playoffs every year.
The worst possible outcome for Westmoreland would be that he lost a lot of his ability during the two years that he was away from the sport and is not able to make it to the major leagues. I do not think that anyone is rooting for this to happen, even Yankee fans. It would be a sad conclusion to his story if Westmoreland was not able to regain his immense talent for the game he loves and trot onto the field in Boston one day.