Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward began a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Friday afternoon.
Getting the start for the Sox’ rookie-level affiliate as they went up against the FCL Twins in Fort Myers, Ward went two innings and did not give up a hit or walk while striking out three. The right-hander plunked the very first batter he faced and allowed that batter to reach third base with one out in the first inning.
He then stranded that runner on third before retiring the side in order in his second and final frame. Pitch counts are not made publicly available for these games, but we do know Ward retired six of the eight Twins he faced and was relieved by Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz.
Friday’s outing marked Ward’s first competitive action since he underwent Tommy John surgery last June. He opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland but made just two starts for the Sea Dogs before being shut down with a forearm strain that ultimately required him to go under the knife.
Now 25 years old, Ward is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks ninth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally selected the Fort Myers native in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Ward — before undergoing Tommy John surgery 13 months ago — was a five-pitch pitcher who worked with a 93-96 mph sinker, an 86-89 mph cutter, an 81-83 mph slider, an 87-89 mph changeup, and a 76-79 mph curveball.
While it remains to be seen how many rehab starts he will need to make before joining a full-season affiliate ( likely Portland) for the rest of the season, it is worth mentioning that Ward can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft later this year.
That is precisely why Ward could be a candidate to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, as it would give the Red Sox a chance to further evaluate the righty before determining if he is worthy of a 40-man roster spot.
(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)