When the Red Sox made their mea culpa blockbuster deal last August, removing the contracts of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, they received a bounty of five players in return from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a few extra bucks to sweeten the pot.
Five months later the likes of James Loney and Ivan De Jesus Jr. have come and gone, and outfielder Jerry Sands never even had the opportunity to pull on any uniform for the organization.
The trade was never about those three.
If a return of any sort was going to come from it, it would be on the arms of 23-year-old Rubby de la Rosa, who was added to the trade after the 2012 season commenced, and Allen Webster, a 22-year-old right-hander who pitched his final two games of last season with Double-A Portland.
For Webster, comparisons to Derek Lowe were drawn due his ability to produce ground ball outs (2.05 ground out/fly out ratio in 2012), but the slim, 6’3” hurler combines that with accuracy and a heavy fastball that produces a bounty of strikeouts as well (468 Ks in 494 innings).
His mid-90s sinking heater and a cutting slider help to keep the baseball within the confines of the stadium, as last year Webster allowed only two home runs over 130 2/3 innings and only 19 total in his pro career.
All of this adds up to high expectation and Baseball America, SoxProspects.com and MLB.com all project Webster as the Red Sox fourth best prospect, and second best pitching prospect behind Matt Barnes.
Having been ranked as the Dodgers second best prospect by Baseball America heading into last season, Webster is familiar with the expectations but none are greater than what he expects of himself first and foremost.
“Of course I look at, everybody looks at it,” said Webster of the rankings. “You just try not to think too much of it. You still have to go out and perform and if you don’t perform, you’re not going to get any higher.”
Webster is aware that it will take all of his efforts to ensure that he meets his and the organizations expectations, and he is firmly aware of where he needs to improve to reach his goals.
“[I have to] be more consistent, cut down on the walks,” said Webster who allowed a career high 61 free passes last season.
“[I’m trying to] just repeat my delivery better and not drift forward,” he added. “When I drift I let the ball sail up and I miss my spot.”
In 2012 Webster allowed four more walks, in fifteen less innings, than in 2011, but there is hardly cause for concern and his experience puts him in the perfect spot to pounce on an opportunity to reach the next level, which for Webster would mean Triple-A.
As the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson points out, Pawtucket will be looking to make their rotation a bit younger this year and while De La Rosa looks to be a lock for the PawSox, Webster could also force himself into the mix with a strong spring.
Although he was only around for less than a month with the Sea Dogs, that acclimation could also play a part in helping the normally reserved Webster feel more comfortable coming into the 2013 campaign, but ultimately he is willing to let his results guide his path.
“I think it’s going to help out a lot,” said Webster of his short time in Portland. “I got to come in and meet all the guys on the team, meet the coaches and they took me in and were awesome to me. I couldn’t ask for much more.
“It’s hard to tell [where I might end up], it just depends on how I work on the field.”
For now he is enjoying his time with his new organization after having spent his first five with Los Angeles.
He was one of eleven top organizational prospects invited to take part in the Red Sox rookie development program at the beginning of January, finding time between workouts to check out the friendly confines of Fenway.
“It was awesome to go see the field and go around it,” said Webster of his trip to the 100 year old ball park. “It helps a lot because you can actually see your goal. It’s just right there.”
Regarding the organization as a whole he said, “They really look after you. They’re awesome.”
Two days before pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Webster will celebrate his 23rd birthday and as he gets ready to reach the most important stretch of his career, he could quickly develop into a role that could signify a resurgence of young arms in the Red Sox system while providing a proper refund from the biggest trade of a season ago.
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