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SoxProspects News

September 10, 2011 at 7:36 AM

Top 10 prospects in Sox system

Heading into the minor-league offseason, here are the top 10 prospects in the Red Sox system, as compiled by the site management team at SoxProspects.com:

1. Will Middlebrooks (23 years old)
3B, Triple-A Pawtucket/Double-A Portland/Short-Season Lowell (rehab)
How acquired: Drafted in the 5th round, 2007. $925,000 bonus.
2011 Stats: .285/.328/.506 with 23 home runs.
Scouting Report: Middlebrooks is a solid all-around athlete with an ideal third-baseman’s frame. He has packed on a lot of muscle since signing in August 2007, but has managed to maintain above-average athleticism. On offense, he has plus bat speed with a nice upward plane through the strike zone, and he hits the ball hard with backspin when he squares it up. With improving bat control and pitch recognition, Middlebrooks projects to have plus power to all fields at the major-league level. However, he’s an aggressive hitter who will need to learn to be a bit more selective at Triple-A before making the jump to the big leagues. He also tends to over-extend his arms during his swing, which causes him to be susceptible on the inner third of the zone. He will need to refine his approach with inside pitches to produce more consistent contact and reduce the strikeouts. He also has the tendency to over-pull the ball during extended stretches, and has proven to be at his best when he’s using the whole field. Defensively, Middlebrooks is rounding toward becoming a plus overall defender. He has a plus-to-elite arm, as he was a highly-regarded pitcher in high school. He’s light on his feet defensively with strong anticipation, reaction, and first step skills. He shows solid footwork and typically stays square to the ball. He could stand to improve range to his left by stabbing less at the ball and taking another step or continuing to become comfortable throwing on the move. Overall, he’s a hard worker who has shown an exemplary ability to make adjustments each season.
Projection: Long-term above-average starter at third base
Ceiling: Perennial All-Star, middle-of-the-order bat
Projected 2012 assignment: Pawtucket with a late-season call-up to Boston

Check out the rest of the column at ESPN Boston