Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, and Anthony Ranaudo are the names that are now in the forefront while waiting for spring training. The “name” of spring of 2013, Allen Webster, seems all but forgotten. Webster has been flying well under the radar this off-season. Much may be the result of his less than inspiring performance in Boston for 2013. Webster managed to finish the year 1-2 with an ERA of 8.60. With his seven starts and one relief appearance Webster’s MLB WHIP was 1.81 thanks, in part, to a dismal 5.3 BB/9.
Webster was one of the gifts Boston received in “The Trade” and was considered one of the prize prospects of the Dodgers system. Webster certainly had minor league credentials as he progressed through the Dodgers system. Prior to the 2013 season Webster was rated Boston’s number four prospect and number seventy-one on MLB Top Prospect List. Not a bad place to be.
So where does he stand? Pawtucket pitching coach, Rich Sauveur, raves about Webster. A big ditto by former Pawtucket manger Gary Disarcina, now a coach with the Dodgers. On WEEI during the 2013 season former Red Sox, Lou Merloni, would focus on Webster quite often. His take was not one of stuff but of location. That is a sad refrain among many a pitcher and some never manage to consistently get the ball where they want. So an above average fastball, a decent curve, more than respectable change and a slider of ML quality means nothing if you can’t get it where it belongs. Unless you have other worldly talent if you pitch behind to ML hitters you will get lit up.
Sox have had this situation on their 2013 Staff. Andrew Miller had incredible promise when drafted and now, after several teams, appears to have settled into a bullpen role. With Miller it came down to the ability to consistently locate – and location is the pitching bible for managers and coaches. Franklin Morales has a power arm and Colorado gave up on him and now so did the Sox, shuffling him back to the Rockies. Maybe he’ll put it together? Morales would be the pitching tease with power performances that all too often were followed by melt downs – think playoffs.
Sometimes it is a good thing to actually be under the radar. All eyes in camp will be on the next list of potential pitching stars. Webster will get his innings and, again, may have the buzz that he had in spring of 2013. Webster will be just twenty-four and destine for the Pawtucket rotation. Now he has some other young guns to contend with and that may be a motivator for Webster who certainly sees the contract figures for even mediocre pitching talent.
A positive Webster performance can only enhance his value to the Red Sox as either a trade chip or staff addition.