SoxProspects News

November 18, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Middlebrooks highlights additions to 40-man roster


Will Middlebrooks (Kelly O'Connor)
The Red Sox announced that they have added third baseman Will Middlebrooks, outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin, and pitcher Drake Britton to the 40-man roster. This protects these three players from being selected by another franchise in the Rule 5 draft, scheduled to take place on December 8.

Middlebrooks, ranked the top prospect in the system on SoxProspects.com, is coming off an outstanding 2011 season in which he hit .285/.328/.506 with 23 home runs. He spent the bulk of the year at Double-A Portland where he finished seventh in the Eastern League with 18 home runs and fourth with 80 RBI, earning him All-Star recognition. Middlebrooks was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on August 19. He is projected to be the PawSox starting third baseman in 2012, with an eye toward a promotion to Boston late in the season or early in 2013. 

Left-hander Britton began the year ranked as the fourth prospect in Boston’s system by SoxProspects.com and as the 97th prospect in minors by Baseball America. What came next was a disastrous 2011 season at High-A Salem where Britton compiled a 1-13 record and a 6.91 ERA. However, Britton is still a lefty who can touch 95 with a plus curveball, has had success in the past, and was able to maintain a K/9 rate of 8.2 even in a down season. This is the sort of profile that another organization might take a shot with in the Rule 5 draft. With his tantalizing set of skills, the Red Sox determined Britton is well worth the roster commitment.
 
Che-Hsuan Lin will get a long look to make the major league club in Spring Training. While the 23-year old Taiwanese outfielder hasn’t yet developed the power expected of a major league outfielder, his excellent defensive skills, speed, and plate discipline could enable him to be a contributor off the bench. Lin hit .245/.340/.305 and added 28 stolen bases between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season. In 2010, Lin was named the Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year.

A few other players that were not added to the 40-man despite some speculation that they may be, include first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez, outfielder Daniel Nava and pitchers Cesar Cabral, Caleb Clay, and Brock Huntzinger. Rodriguez hit .286/.355/.526 between Salem and Portland last season and led all Red Sox minor leagues with 59 extra-base hits, but is 25 years old. Nava played in a total of 60 games with the 2010 Red Sox, and hit a respectable .242/.351/.360. Designated for assignment on May 20 of this year, Nava went unclaimed and was outrighted to Pawtucket where he hit .268/.372/.406 with 10 home runs.

Cabral has already been taken once in the Rule 5 draft, a year ago by the Tampa Bay Rays. He impressed the Rays in spring training but was unable to crack the opening day roster and was returned to the Red Sox. He is likely to be taken again this year after striking out more than a batter per inning last season between High- and Double-A. The big right-hander Huntzinger spent 2011 at Portland, where he went 5-11 with a 6.17 ERA, and gave up 23 home runs in only 124 innings pitched. However, an impressive 123 strikeouts against only 41 walks gives management hope that improved command of his slider, which he has been prone to leaving up in the zone, will result in a breakout in 2012. 

Clay suffered a torn ligament in his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2007, and has only 86 appearances in his minor league career. He went 1-5 with a 7.47 ERA for Portland last season, but a 1.26 ERA in the Arizona Fall League has the organization believing that he has turned the corner. In his recent interview with SoxProspects.com columnist Jon Meoli, Clay credits increased confidence in his arm angle and improved command of his fastball for his improvement.

The following players who meet the eligibility requirements were not added to the 40-man roster, and are therefore available to other teams in the Rule 5 Draft:

Michael Almanzar, Anatanaer Batista, Ronald Bermudez, Yeiper Castillo, Miguel Celestino, Mitch Dening, Ryan Dent, Brandon Duckworth, Justin Erasmus, Ruben Flores, Seth Garrison, Zach Gentile, Miguel Gonzalez, Charlie Haeger, Jon Hee, Jeremy Kehrt, Matt Kramer, Will Latimer, Michael Lee, David Mailman, Leandro Marin, Dennis Neuman, Michael Olmsted, Josue Peley, Tony Pena, Wilfred Pichardo, Eammon Portice, Ryan Pressly, Manny Rivera, Charle Rosario, Pete Ruiz, Nate Spears, Matt Spring, and Tony Thomas.

 
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