Former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland retires

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Ryan Westmoreland has decided to retire from baseball at just 22 years old. The former highly-touted prospect's career was dismantled by multiple brain surgeries.

”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 in an email to the Providence Journal. “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.”

Westmoreland was drafted in the fifth round by the Red Sox in 2008 out of high school in nearby Rhode Island. He was a left-handed hitting outfielder with good speed and high on-base ability.

After he hit .296/.401/.484 with 15 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 35 RBI and 19 steals (in 19 attempts) for Low-A Lowell in 2009, Baseball America ranked Westmoreland as the 21st-best prospect in all of baseball.

In March 2010, however, Westmoreland had to undergo emergency brain surgery to remove a potentially fatal tumor from his brain stem. He battled back and resumed some baseball activity but again needed brain surgery last July.

And now he has decided to move on from baseball. Westmoreland signed for $2 million with the Red Sox in 2008 instead of taking a baseball scholarship at Vanderbilt, so maybe he has enough money left to pursue a degree at Vandy, sans baseball.

Whatever he does, let us all wish Westmoreland well. Going through two brain surgeries before one's 23rd birthday is pretty tragic.

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