Ryan Westmoreland was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, a first-round talent that slipped due to his commitment to Vanderbilt. The Red Sox paid Westmoreland a $2 million bonus, and the 18-year old is now ranked the Red Sox’s ninth best prospect on SoxProspects.com. Ryan was gracious enough to answer a few questions…

Where did you learn the patience that you are renowned for at the plate? Who would you attribute your success at the plate to and why?

I can really give all the credit for my success at the plate to my father, Ron. He has coached me from t-ball all the way through high school. Also, Dave Ulmschneider, the head coach at Portsmouth High School has been a great coach and a big part of why I am where I am today.

As a Rhode Island product you have often been compared to Rocco Baldelli. Do you think that’s an accurate comparision and why?

I have heard many people compare me to Rocco, and I think you could say that is a fair statement. I believe we have similar tools, and ever since I started playing the outfield (about 2 years ago — I was always a middle infielder. I switched to the outfield when college recruiters saw that my speed could be used better in the outfield), I’ve always strived to be like Rocco, so its very rewarding to know people make that comparison.

Have you played any baseball with a wooden bat? How are you going to make up for the additional power needed to launch the ball?

Yes, I’ve played a lot with wooden bats. Although RI high school baseball is aluminum, I’ve been playing summer ball (AAU, showcase teams, etc.), and those teams are for the most part wood bat all summer. In order to make the adjustment from metal to wood and get more “pop” out of the bat, I’ll need to focus more on squaring up the ball and hitting it on the barrel of the bat. This is because you can’t get away with little bloopers like you can with metal. With a metal bat, a blooper to right that falls in for a hit will be a pop out to the second basemen with a wooden bat.

What do you prefer to do — hit or pitch? You’re being drafted to play as an outfielder but you also pitched a perfect game earlier this year.

Growing up, I grew to love both pitching and hitting. I was committed to Vanderbilt as a 2-way player, but I was drafted as an outfield (primarily CF). I think if I had to choose, I like playing the outfield better because pitchers throw every 2-5 days whereas an outfielder will often be in the lineup mostly every game. So I like the fact that I was drafted as an outfielder because it will give me a chance to hopefully get out there every day.

Why are you playing outfield instead of being a pitcher?

The reason that I will end up being an outfielder rather than a pitcher is the Red Sox want to utilize my foot speed in the outfield, rather than if I was a pitcher my foot speed would be, in a way, a waste.

Would you consider yourself a vocal team leader or someone who doesn’t make waves and has everyone do their own thing?

I definitely can say that I’m not a vocal leader. I’d say the way I lead is by example. I don’t think yelling and being vocal is necessary in a leader. Someone who consistently does the right thing and gets noticed in a good way by teammates is just as valuable as the vocal leader is.

What would you say is your biggest dream? Landing a huge contract, becoming an All-Star, etc?

As far as my goals, they will come one at a time. To start, the main task at hand is to get to the big leagues. To work hard every day in the minors, and work my way up the ladder. It’s not going to be anywhere near easy, but if time and effort is put in, it can be done. Once you’re in the bigs, it’s a bonus from there. Sure I’d love being an All-Star, world series champion, and lead the league in something, but I’m really only focused on getting to Fenway Park right now.

What pitcher would you love to face for your major league debut and why?

I don’t think there’s really one pitcher I’d like to get my debut against, but I would love if he pitches for the Yankees. I’ve grown up a die hard Sox fan and I don’t think there would be anything better than to get a big hit in my MLB debut off of a Yankee pitcher!

Have the Red Sox told you what they plan to do with you in the short term? What to work on, where you will report and so on?

The Sox haven’t told me about what I’m doing next year, but here is the plan for the near future: September 21 is the start of Instructional League in Ft. Myers and that is basically individual training with the staff. That will run until October 12. Next is the offseason which will go until February or so. And lastly is spring training which is where the teams will be split up and I’ll know a lot more from there.

Many thanks to Ryan! We’re all looking forward to watching him progress through the minor leagues, I’m sure!