FORT MYERS, Fla. — Outfielder Ryan Westmoreland, a Rhode Island native once considered the top prospect in the Red Sox organization, announced his retirement on Wednesday.
Westmoreland, who will turn 23 on April 27, underwent brain surgery in March 2010 to correct a cavernous malformation. He had similar surgery last July.
“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 e-mail sent to some media outlets. A copy was provided to the Globe by the Red Sox.
“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. It is with that confidence that I am comfortable turning the page.”
Westmoreland went on to thank the Red Sox, his family, his agents, and fans for their support. He plans to pursue a college degree and work in baseball in some capacity.
Westmoreland was a sixth-round pick in the 2008 draft and passed up a scholarship to Vanderbilt in favor of a $2 million bonus from the Red Sox. He played one season, hitting .296 with Lowell in 2009.
The Red Sox allowed Westmoreland to continue working out at team facilities for several years despite the slim odds that he would ever return to a competitive level.