Ryan Westmoreland Announces his Retirement

Ryan Westmoreland playing in his only professional season.
Three years after his initial surgery to remove a cavernous malformation in his brain, former top prospect Ryan Westmoreland announced his retirement today.  Westmoreland emailed the following statement to members of the media today:
"With a clear mind and heart, as well as the unwavering support and friendship of my family, friends, agent(s), doctors, therapists and the Boston Red Sox, I have decided to voluntarily retire as a professional baseball player," Westmoreland wrote. "Although it is a very difficult decision for me, it has become clear that the neurological damage caused by the most recent cavernous malformation and surgery leaves me with physical challenges that make it impossible to play the game at such a high level.

In my heart, I know that I have worked as hard as one possibly could to overcome the obstacles presented by this unfortunate series of events," he wrote. "It is with that confidence that I am comfortable turning the page, and searching for "the reason" that this has happened. I believe that there is a plan for me that will utilize my experiences, however painful some may have been, to do something special in my life. It is time for me to find that path, and to pursue it with the same focus and effort that I pursued the dream of playing professional baseball.

Regardless of this result, I have been very fortunate throughout my professional career and the last three years of recovery and rehabilitation. I have met sincere, caring people that have believed in me and have helped me to stay focused on the task at hand. I will never be able to adequately thank the wonderful people in the Boston Red Sox organization, that continued to support me and my family throughout all of this. From the time of the initial diagnosis, it was never about the baseball. They cared for me as a person... a member of their family, and their focus was entirely on my physical and emotional well being. I have met so many players that have been there for me, that I know will continue to be my friends long past this. I have had access to the best hospitals, doctors, surgeons, therapists and others that without their professional advice and treatment would never be where I am today. Octagon has always been more than a sports agent to me, they are friends that were there in every hospital or whenever I needed them for support and advice. The media has been fair and sensitive to me throughout this, and I am grateful for that. Through that media, I have been blessed to receive support and encouragement from so many people from all over, that although I don't know them have been instrumental in driving me to accomplish all that is possible. And finally, my family and friends have been by my side and have supported whatever it is that I wanted to pursue. It has been a difficult road for all of them, yet they have managed to stay strong and keep me focused on the next goal. I have no doubt their support will continue to drive me towards the next.
After his initial surgery, Westmoreland resumed baseball activities as he attempted to come back.  Mundane activities like tying his shoes had to be relearned.  Shockingly baseball came easily to Westmoreland thanks to muscle memories acquired after thousands of repetitions of swinging a bat and throwing a ball. All that changed when another malformation appeared last July requiring another surgery.  Seemingly back to square one, Westmorland reported to minor league camp last month walking with a cane.

His line in his only professional season 296/405/486 and he was 19 for 19 in steals playing as a 19 year old at Lowell against mainly seasoned college players. After his successful 2009 professional debut Baseball Prospectus ranked Westmoreland the 13th best prospect in all of baseball ahead of current major leaguers Madison Bumgarner, Starlin Castro, Matt Moore, Ben Revere, Austin Jackson, Freddie Freeman, Mike Trout, Wilson Ramos, Mike Moustakas, and Brett Lawrie.

Westmoreland joins a list of New England natives who for a variety of reasons were never able to fully realize their potential in baseball.  Westmoreland was fortunate in that he was drafted by the Red Sox and signed a $2 million bonus as opposed to accepting a scholarship at Vanderbilt. Reports at the time he was drafted indicated that he was more than likely college-bound, and after the fact Westmoreland said the Red Sox were the only team he would have signed for.

Instead of going to All-Star Games and competing for MVP Awards, Westmoreland joins the list of local "What if's?" with Harry Agganis, Tony Conligiaro, Mark Fidrych, Rocco Baldelli, and Jeff Allison.  None of that really matters as long as Westmoreland can go on to live a long, healthy and normal life. With the determination he has shown in his attempts to come back betting against him is a sucker bet.