Red Sox Prospect Ryan Westmoreland to Undergo Brain Surgery

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After a cavernous malformation was discovered in his brain this week, top Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland will undergo brain surgery on Tuesday.

According to ESPN.com, the 19-year-old Rhode Island native began experiencing headaches and numbness during spring training and left the team in early March to be examined at Mass General Hospital, where he was diagnosed.

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Robert Spetzler in Phoenix, Ariz.

Westmoreland's condition reportedly carries significant risk of neurological damage and could possibly be life-threatening.

Sources told ESPN.com that the malformation is on Westmoreland's brain stem, and that Westmoreland has experienced some bleeding in the brain. Any further damage could cause neurological damage.

Steelers neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon shed some light on the surgery Westmoreland will undergo.

"It is potentially life-threatening, as is any brain surgery," Maroon told ESPN.com, "but the mortality is low."

The Red Sox drafted Westmoreland in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.

Former Red Sox and Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli expressed sympathy for the young prospect.

"It's unfortunate," Baldelli told ESPN.com. "It's sad. More than anything, it's upsetting. Ryan is a great person and a great baseball player. I hope everyone respects the family's privacy. It's a sad situation, something I wish he didn't have to deal with. Knowing Ryan and his family the way I do, they're going to take care of it in the best way possible."

Baseball America ranked Westmoreland as Boston's No. 1 prospect, and San Diego scouting director Jason McLeod speaks very highly of him, telling ESPN that he has more upside than any other player he has seen in the years he has run the Red Sox's amateur drafts.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein released a statement on Saturday concerning Westmoreland's condition before making it clear that the team plans to respect the privacy of the player and his family.

"The entire Red Sox organization stands in support of Ryan as he courageously deals with this issue," Epstein said. "Ryan is a remarkable kid and a talented player, and we understand that many will be concerned about his health. He is getting the best medical attention the world has to offer, and we will have more information soon. Until then — out of respect for Ryan's privacy and at the request of the Westmoreland family — we will not have any further comment."

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