FORT MYERS, Fla. — Allen Webster forever will be linked to a defining moment in Boston Red Sox history, regardless of whether or not he throws another major league pitch.
Webster, a soft-spoken 24-year-old right-hander from Greensboro, N.C., was dealt to the Red Sox in August 2012 as part of the franchise-altering trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The move helped the Red Sox reset, paving the way for a World Series title in 2013, and also gave Webster an opportunity he’s looking to build on in 2014.
“It was definitely by surprise,” Webster said Wednesday before the Red Sox’s spring training workout at JetBlue Park. “Looking back, I’m glad it happened. I made it to the big leagues last year.”
While Webster was surprised he landed in Boston, the whole idea of being traded didn’t really catch the pitcher off-guard despite how highly regarded he was while in the Dodgers’ minor league system.
“I thought I was going to be in a trade before that, with the (Chicago) Cubs I think. … I was in one of the rumors,” Webster said. “I kind of mentally prepared myself then because I thought I was going to get traded, but then I didn’t, and I guess it made it a little easier when (a trade) actually came.”
Webster, ranked the game’s No. 95 prospect by Baseball America before the 2012 season, was sent to the Red Sox along with fellow hard-throwing righty Rubby De La Rosa. The talented, young hurlers were viewed as an incredible bonus on top of Boston’s newfound financial relief.
Webster’s electric stuff continued to turn heads at the tail end of 2012, causing Baseball America to rank him the game’s No. 49 prospect before the 2013 season. It was a distinction that spoke to Webster’s immense potential, even if such rankings hardly guarantee future success.
“I see all of it. Everybody sees it,” Webster said of the annual prospect rankings. “(But) you don’t really think about it because if I don’t go out and get outs, what they say in the prospect papers doesn’t mean anything.”
Webster struggled in his first major league action last season, posting an 8.60 ERA over eight appearances (seven starts) with Boston. But while Webster admitted Wednesday that he was nervous before each of his big league outings in 2013, this year represents an opportunity for him to continue the growth that really kickstarted upon his arrival in the Red Sox organization.
“I talk to all of the older guys a lot,” said Webster, who figures to start the year at Triple-A Pawtucket. “They’re helping me out right now with my mechanics, just giving me pointers and stuff.”
Those pointers should help Webster continue his development, and could, in time, help him become more than just a footnote in Boston’s unforgettable blockbuster.