March 20, 2012 at 8:14 PM
Third base is another position with some promise in the Red Sox system, as three of the top 20 prospects in the system play the position. While Kevin Youkilis is signed through this season with a team option for 2013, the position is not totally blocked, as Youkilis is a candidate to possibly see more time at DH as he gets into his mid-30s and beyond.
Here’s a look at the top third-base prospects in the Red Sox system as the 2012 season gets underway.
Will Middlebrooks (Age: 23)
How Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round in 2007 ($925,000 signing bonus)
2011 Stats: .285 AVG/.328 OBP/.506 SLG with 23 home runs for Triple-A Pawtucket, Double-A Portland, and short-season Lowell (rehab assignment)
2012 Status: Added to 40-man roster on Nov. 18, 2011, optioned to Pawtucket on March 16. Three options remaining.
Scouting Report: Middlebrooks is a solid all-around athlete with an ideal frame for a third baseman. He has plus bat speed with a nice upward plane through the zone and the ability to drive the ball when he squares it up. He projects to be an above-average major league power hitter. He is still overly aggressive and will need to spend the first half of the 2012 season continuing to work on his pitch recognition, an area where he’s already made impressive strides. Despite that improvement, he doesn’t project to be a great contact hitter and will likely continue to strike out a lot during the early phases of his career. He also needs to work on not trying to over-pull the ball when he gets into slumps. In the field, Middlebrooks has a great arm, fluid footwork, decent range, and gets nice reactions on balls. Overall, he projects as an above-average to plus defender at the hot corner. He’s known as a very hard worker and a well-liked teammate.
Projection: Starting third baseman for Boston
Ceiling: All-Star third baseman
Floor: Solid bench player with some boom/bust power