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SoxProspects News

September 11, 2008 at 9:18 PM

Q&A with Will Middlebrooks

The Red Sox selected Will Middlebrooks out of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texas in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. Committed to Texas A&M for both baseball and football, Middlebrooks signed with the Sox at the signing deadline, but did not make his professional debut in 2007. In 2008, Midlebrooks stayed behind in Extended Spring Training after the full season teams broke camp, and eventually made his professional debut with the Lowell Spinners this summer as the starting third baseman. Prior to Lowell’s first game of the playoffs, Chris Mellen of SoxProspects.com sat down with Middlebrooks to chat about baseball.

Chris Mellen:
Will, you started this season off a little slow at the plate, but have come on strong over the last six weeks. Can you talk about some of the adjustments you have made at the plate along with some of the things that Sox have stressed with you this season?
Will Middlebrooks
: Yeah, well this season started off pretty rough. You know, just trying to get adjusted to the style of baseball and the overall speed of the game. I was real tense at the plate, trying to do a little too much, and not staying within myself. I focused on staying relaxed and just dealing with what I could control while not worrying about other things. I’ve been working on staying calm so I can go out, see the ball, and hit the ball.

The Red Sox drafted you as a shortstop, and you played shortstop down in spring training, but have exclusively played 3B here in Lowell. What has that transition been like, and was this something that you had expected?
: Well, from the get-go we knew eventually somewhere down the line I was going to move to third base. Basically, I’m not your typical shortstop, being a little bigger than the usual middle infielder. They told me that as I got older - and not as quick as I was in high school - that I’d move over. They wanted to go ahead and get me over there now to start the process of learning the position, getting used to the angles and speed of the ball over here. It’s been a good transfer so far. I like playing third a lot, but it’s very different than shortstop. There’s more reaction, as opposed to the footwork at shortstop. Coming in on the ball is also different. At third, you’re going back on the ball more and finding your angles.

CM: What teammate has impressed you this season in Lowell?
WM: The whole season I have really been impressed with Mitch Dening. He’s not just a good ballplayer, he’s a good teammate. He picks everyone up, and if he has a rough day, you know he is going to come back and have a good day. Dening has been really consistent all season - just a good ballplayer and teammate.

CM: What are your plans for the off-season? Is there something specific you will look to work on leading up to spring training?
WM: Last year in the off-season, I was trying to stay quick and fas, as I was still at shortstop. Now, I can start to put on a little more size, especially in my legs. I’m going to work on getting bigger and stronger to hit for a little bit more power.

Give us a self scouting report on Will Middlebrooks.
: A lot of improvement as a player this season. Right now, I’m a gap-to-gap hitter with a little power, who’s not trying to do too much. In the field, I’ve been developing as a third baseman. Getting the footwork down and used to the angle of the ball off the bat. Someone who is always going to work hard like everyone else, and always looking to improve.

Back when you were drafted, you were committed to Texas A&M. What was it like leading up to being signed, and how did the Red Sox approach the negotiations?
: It was actually a really smooth ordeal. It wasn’t back-and-forth like maybe it had been reported. They basically said we’re going to try and get you what you want, because we want to get you signed. I was committed to going to school. as I loved playing football, and was going to a good school - but they also knew I was willing to give that all up because I wanted to play baseball professionally. That was my goal. We worked together and everything ended up going real well.

What’s been the biggest difference between the pro pitchers and high school pitchers?
: Guys really spot up well here. In high school, it was a lot of throwers and not as many pitchers. These guys throw breaking pitches whenever in the count. In high school, it was mostly later in the count. Here, you’ll see guys throw first pitch breaking pitches, 2-0 breaking pitches, and lots of change-ups. High school was a lot of fastball-curveball guys, and here it is a lot of pitchers with change-ups. Guys throw harder, and overall the pitching intelligence is better.

CM: Football season is underway. What do you miss the most about playing football?
WM: The feeling of game day. Even on Fridays now in the fall, it feels like game day to me. Watching college football on Saturdays, of course you’re going to wonder “what if”? But I have no regrets at all, as this is where I want to be.