Former Boston Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland will become part of history Wednesday when the Lowell Spinners make him the first player ever to have his number retired by the team.
Westmoreland, who was forced into an early retirement in March 2013 after undergoing two brain surgeries, once was considered one of the top prospects in Major League Baseball. The 2008 fifth-round pick had a tremendous 2009 season with Lowell, and he now will watch as his No. 25 joins the Red Sox’s retired numbers on the right field wall at LeLacheur Park.
“Looking back, my summer in Lowell was probably one of the best summers of my life,” Westmoreland recently told The Boston Globe’s Julian Benbow. “Not just from a statistical standpoint, but it was so cool playing in front of thousands of people every night. Diehard Red Sox fans.
“I know it was special, especially for me, coming out of high school being used to playing in front of only 10-20 people, all parents, to getting a packed house every night and getting an idea of what pro baseball was like. I can’t imagine a better place to start your career than Lowell.”
Westmoreland’s 2009 campaign at Single-A Lowell marked his only season of professional baseball. The outfielder, who turned 24 in April, hit .296 with seven homers, 35 RBIs, 19 stolen bases and a .401 on-base percentage in 60 games. He garnered national attention for his exceptional play and entered the 2010 season as the No. 14 prospect in baseball, according to BaseballProspectus.com.
Westmoreland never played another game following his stellar 2009 season, as he was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation at his brainstem and underwent the first of his two surgeries in March 2010.
“It was tough. It was the hardest decision ever,” Westmoreland said of retiring at age 22. “But at the same time, I realized it was time to move on and turn the page. I’m still very young, I just turned 24, so I’ve got a lot ahead of me. I just felt like it was time to move on and pursue other things. Certainly getting back into school is the right start. I’m going to go from there.”
Westmoreland learned back in January that the Spinners planned to retire his No. 25 this season. The Portsmouth, R.I., native considers it an honor that speaks volumes about his short but memorable time in the Red Sox organization.
“It really took months to set in,” Westmoreland said. “I was so shocked and speechless, and I was so honored that they would do something like that — the first number they’ve ever retired.
“It was huge for me and my family and for everyone who knows how hard I was working and how hard I do work and to be appreciated and recognized for that is really special.”
Westmoreland has moved on to the next stage of his life. Wednesday’s ceremony will provide an opportunity to reflect on what the charismatic former prospect has been able to overcome despite having his once-promising baseball career cut short.
“I’m just really excited and thankful for everyone involved for making this night so special,” Westmoreland said.
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