Q+A with ‘untouchable’ prospect Ryan Westmoreland

Ryan Westmoreland was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He has been compared to Rocco Baldelli, given that both hail from Rhode Island. For Low-A Lowell, ‘Westy’ is hitting .298/.398/.491 with seven home runs, three triples and 15 doubles in 218 at-bats. He has 19 stolen bases and zero caught and is ranked the seventh best prospect in the organization by SoxProspects.com.
He got on the radar for casual Sox fans this year who heard that Westmoreland was deemed untouchable by the Red Sox during trade talks. Westmoreland first talked to Fire Brand exactly a year ago today. Let’s check in…

This is your first full year playing professionally, so this is your first time being around the trade rumors gauntlet. At the trade deadline, there were rumors flying everywhere, and I’ve seen your name come up twice: once saying the Red Sox offered to trade you as part of a deal for Roy Halladay, another saying that the Red Sox consider you untouchable, that you cannot be had. How do you approach these things? Do you shut out all trade talks or are you looking everywhere for news — not just about you, but about everyone?
As far as all of those trade talks, I figured the best thing to do about the whole situation was to block it out. The only thing that will come out of it if I were to watch the news 24/7 would be bad things in the games. I would not be nearly focused enough to play the game the way I know how. Regardless of what might have happened, all I wanted to do was focus on the things that I personally could control, and that’s how I go out and play every
night.
Taking it a little further, do you keep up with the baseball news or how the Sox are doing or do you try to remove yourself from knowing what’s going on? Why?

I always check in the MLB world to see what’s going on, especially Boston for a couple of reasons. One mainly being they have been my favorite team since I can remember, and also, I know a few guys through spring training who have gotten called up to the big leagues (Reddick from Boston), so it’s good to check up and see how guys are doing.
[Evan: Westmoreland had surgery Nov. 2008 to repair a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. He has been serving as DH the entire season before joining the outfield August 16. Nice birthday present for me!] Have you had any problems with your surgery from the torn labrum? Do you have full range of motion and consider yourself at 100 percent?
The shoulder feels good, I am finally playing the outfield again after a long rehab process. I can’t say I’m absolutely 100% ready to let it rip, but I’m at the point where I feel comfortable out there again and can hit the cutoff man without pain or issues.
How has your experience been at Lowell? You haven’t spent a ton of time playing pro ball yet thanks to the surgery, but have you gotten yourself in a routine yet? What’s your typical pre-game routine?
Yeah, I feel like I’ve been able to settle in to things here in Lowell. I’ve had a blast thus far playing in front of thousands of people everyn ight for the first time and the Spinners staff and coaching staff have been nothing short of outstanding so far. As far as a routine, things before the games can change (Early hitting and BP schedules) but once the game starts I have the same plan up there at the plate. For the most part I like to see pitches and try to work the count deep. However that doesn’t go for every at bat. If I feel like the pitcher is going to try to start me off with something I can drive, not expecting a first pitch swing, I know before my at bat that if he tries to get away with a quick inside fastball, I’m not going to let it go and give him the advantage.
Gary DiSarcina was a former big leaguer; how has he helped you adjust to pro ball? What have you learned from him?
DiSar is a great guy to learn from, being a former big leaguer. He knows what we’re going through in the Minor Leagues, and he gives us great insight of what it takes to move up. He’s an easy guy to talk with and ask questions about his big league experience, as well as our own personal questions about our path there. Mainly the biggest thing that I’ve learned is how to handle yourself like a big leaguer, on and off the field.
You mentioned in a scouting report on yourself that you have the tendency to lunge at pitches sometimes. How are you working on addressing this problem?
I think the lunging at pitches issue is starting to get better, and I was hoping that it might as the season went on. I felt like the reason I was lunging at pitches was because of pitch recognition and my little experience at that time seeing good college off-speed stuff. But, as the season has gone on I have felt better picking up pitches and where they’ll be located. Not saying that I still don’t lunge because I absolutely do, but I feel like the number of times getting fooled by a hard slider in the dirt is getting smaller, because I’m feeling more comfortable with pitch recognition.
What do you feel you need to do to gain a promotion to the next level?
I think that the biggest thing right now is improving the shoulder strength. I don’t think I’m ready to be an outfielder everyday, which is normal coming back from surgery, so the only thing I’m focused on really improving on is the shoulder and it’s strength and maintenance. Once my shoulder is back to normal, I can start to improve on my throws and accuracy.
What do you like doing in your spare time? Reading, tv, etc.
Usually in the spare time that we have I pretty much just sleep and eat a lot. But apart from that I like playing XBox and just hanging out with the guys on the team, going out to eat and meeting new people.
Are there any specific teammates you are impressed with that you feel Sox fans should know about? Who and why?
For Sox fans, a new guy you need to keep your eye on is Chris McGuiness [Evan: He was just promoted to Mid-A Greenville.]. He’s a solid first basemen and handles himself very well. At the plate he has very good power and incredible plate discipline for being a big power hitter. He’s got a great approach at the plate and he’s a great clubhouse guy. You won’t find a person in the organization that doesn’t like Chris as a player on the field and off the field.
Just want to say thanks to Ryan for taking time out of his schedule to answer some questions. Lowell is in first place with a 37-27 record, 3.5 games ahead of Oneonta (Detroit Tigers). He’ll likely finish out the year with Lowell in the playoffs and open 2010 up in either mid-A Greenville or high-A Salem. SoxProspects figures on a major league debut in 2013. I’d take the under.

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