The Red Sox took significant steps in the right direction when it came to developing their own pitching prospects this past season.
On the major-league level, former first-round pick Tanner Houck became one of the organization's best development success stories in some time. The likes of Brayan Bello, Jay Groome, Josh WInckowski and Chris Murphy all reached at least Double-A in their respective breakout minor-league campaigns.
But two of the top Red Sox pitching prospects heading into 2021 - Thaddeus Ward and Bryan Mata - were forced to put their progress on hold, both undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The good news is that within the last month, both pitchers have hit one of the key milestones for pitchers taking such a path. Both Ward and Mata are actually throwing a baseball again.
The 22-year-old Mata, who underwent the procedure in mid-April, threw for the first time just as the Red Sox were starting their postseason run in early October.
Ward, a 24-year-old who succumbed to the surgery in early June, just posted video of him throwing for the first time since the operation, Wednesday.
Ward pitched in two games for Double-A Portland before his injury. Unlike Mata, he is not on the Red Sox' 40-man roster. The organization will need to determine if it is going to add the righty to the roster, or run the risk of a team selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft.
Despite the progress, both pitchers are expected to be limited in their participation when next year's spring training rolls around.