No. 21: Red Sox starting pitching prospect Thad Ward
Thad Ward is one of the organization’s comeback stories of the year. The right-handed starter made two starts in 2021, totaling eight innings of work. His year ended due to an injury that led to Ward getting Tommy John surgery.
Returning midway through the 2022 season, Ward took zero time to remind everyone why he was such an intriguing prospect before his injury.
In 51 1/3 innings between four levels (Rookie Ball, Low-A, High-A, and mainly Double-A), Ward dominated. The 25-year-old posted a 2.28 ERA, .212 BAA, and 1.15 WHIP while striking out 66 batters compared to 19 walks in that time. If there was any worry that he wouldn’t be able to bounce back from the injury, he shook that off as quickly as possible.
Ward has three good pitches. His fastball works in the low-to-mid-90s with a phenomenal sink to it. He seems to have strong control over the pitch as well. This leads to a lot of ground balls.
Next up is a cutter that sits in the high-80s. This pitch has a surprising amount of movement to it, and will definitely get some hitters reaching. This one gets a good amount of swing-and-misses. It’s a nice compliment to his sinker, which is used more to create weak contact. Another pitch with solid command, but he does have some issues with it every once in a while.
Finally, there’s an absolutely devastating slider. Easily the best pitch of his three, and that’s not an insult to the other two. This slider is simply that nasty. Ward throws it in the low-80s, and it has such a nasty break to it. He rarely leaves it flat and can put it where he wants, buckling knees for strikes, or throwing it in the dirt for an embarrassing swing.
Overall, Ward impressed heavily in his season back from Tommy John surgery. A good repertoire of pitches with a potentially elite slider doesn’t hurt his standing either.