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November 19, 2014 at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Allen Webster

As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, are closing this year by featuring the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status. Note that there will be no entry tomorrow, but the series will return on Friday.

Peak System Ranking: #3
Graduated: August 15 (#5)
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 59 IP, 5-3, 5.03 ERA, 58 H, 35 R/33 ER, 28 BB, 36 K, 1.46 WHIP (majors)
122 IP, 4-4, 3.10 ERA, 107 H, 45 R/42 ER, 44 BB, 100 K, 1.24 WHIP (minors)


Season in Review: After making his MLB debut in 2013 and throwing 30 1/3 big league innings, Webster broke camp in 2014 as the Opening Day starter for the PawSox, needing to prove his way back into the majors. he went just 3 2/3 innings and picked up the loss in his first start, but he rebounded to pitch to a 2.12 ERA over his next 51 innings, giving up only 40 hits while walking 21 and striking out 35. He had his worst start for Pawtucket on May 25, surrendering six runs on nine hits over five innings, but he came back with an absolutely dominating performance his next time out, firing eight innings of one-run ball, walking only one and striking out seven while notching 18 swinging strikes. Webster was solid yet unspectacular over his last nine games with the PawSox, giving up 20 runs in 54 1/3 innings (3.31 ERA), walking 18 and striking out 50. The decline in his walk rate and his uptick in his strikeouts were positive signs, but he did have trouble with the long ball at the end of his Pawtucket tenure, serving up five home runs over his last eight games.

After Jake Peavy was traded to San Fransisco on July 26, Webster was called up to Boston and got his first start the next day. He got the win, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings, but he walked five and threw only 42 of his 86 pitches for strikes. He was not able to limit the damage in his next start, as the Yankees knocked him out of the game after he recorded only eight outs, having given up four runs while walking six. His next three starts represented a bit of a breakthrough, as he registered a quality start in each game while cutting his walk rate precipitously, but the roller coaster rolled on, and in his next three games, he went 0-2 with an ERA just south of 10.00.

With the end of the season drawing closer and his future clouded by ineffectiveness in the majors dating back to 2013, Webster responded with the best stretch of his brief major league career, ending the season with a 1.93 ERA over his last 18 2/3 innings, walking only three batters and throwing 62 percent of his pitches for strikes. He saved his best start for last, picking up the win after allowing one run over seven innings against the Rays, walking only one and striking out five. Although he ended the season on a high note, his 5.03 ERA in 59 innings with Boston this season was a disappointment, and his career ERA in the majors now sits at 6.25 after 89 1/3 innings. - Jim Crowell

Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Webster has an athletic body with a smaller frame. He has an athletic and repeatable delivery, but still struggles with his release point and with his arm lagging behind, causing him to sail pitches arm-side and up. Webster displays a four-pitch mix, featuring a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. He features some of the best raw stuff in the organization, but has struggled to find consistency and control of his pitches for more than brief stretches. The fastball sits at 91-94 mph and tops at 95 with quality sink. That movement has led to command and control issues for Webster through out his career. The pitch grades above-average, but plays down a tick due to that lack of command and control. His best secondary pitch is the changeup at 83-85 mph with arm-side fade. The pitch grades above-average, and he throws it with quality arm speed and confidence in any count. The slider sits 85-87 mph with two-plane break, grading average to slightly above-average.  The changeup/slider combination gives Webster effective and useful offerings for both right-handed and left-handed hitters. He will also flash a fringe-average curveball at 76-79 mph. The pitch has depth, and but lacks bite. I have seen Webster wait until the second or third time through the order to begin incorporating the curveball to keep hitters guessing and off-balance with another offering.

The above-mentioned weaknesses have kept Webster from reaching his potential as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, and he is probably best suited for the bullpen. However, still only entering his age 25 season—and his last option year—he should continue to develop as a starter until an official decision on his role needs to be made following 2015. - Chaz Fiorino

Additional editorial support provided by Jonathan Singer.

Photo Credit: Kelly O'Connor