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Webster's strong outing could lead to start

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Allen Webster, who is ranked the Red Sox's No. 4 prospect by, is "pretty damn good," manager John Farrell said Tuesday, good enough that he could make a Grapefruit League appearance as a starter.

Webster, who was acquired last August as part of the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, threw three innings of relief in the Red Sox's 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday at JetBlue Park. He struck out three and let up one unearned run on three hits as his heavy ball again opened eyes. Webster's only pitched out of the 'pen so far this spring, but Farrell said Webster could make a start at some point before camp breaks.

Last year, the right-hander was 6-9 with a 3.86 ERA in 29 appearances (24 starts) split between Double-A Chattanooga and Double-A Portland. He racked up 129 strikeouts over 130 2/3 frames.

As a sinkerball pitcher, Webster doesn't have to worry quite as much as others about giving up a home run if a fastball runs from the outside corner back on to the plate. He wants swings, and staying over the plate brings them.

"The one thing that he's grasping is that with his stuff and the action of his two-seamer, he doesn't have to pitch to a third of the plate," Farrell said. "He can be more aggressive on the white part of the plate, and it's allowed him to pitch and at least execute strike one at a higher rate. It just opens up so many more options for him. In a nutshell, it's his ability to attack the strike zone, strike one."

Webster has struck out 14 in 11 Grapefruit League innings while allowing two earned runs. His changeup is earning rave reviews along with the sinker.

"What's been impressive is young pitchers that are able to throw that changeup on a 3-2 count," Farrell said. "He's showing the ability to throw a breaking ball to both sides of the plate, in addition to a live fastball, heavy sink. He's done a great job."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich.

Boston Red Sox, Allen Webster