Will Middlebrooks was drafted by the Red Sox in the 5th round of the 2007 draft following a stellar high school career at Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, TX. Playing shortstop and pitcher (13-0 in his senior year), he batted .555 in his final season and Baseball America tabbed him 2nd Team High School All-American. He gave up a scholarship to Texas A&M and began his minor league career in the Red Sox organization in 2008 at Lowell in the New-York Penn League. He made his major league debut on May 2, 2012.
Middlebrooks saw his 2012 season end on August 10 with a broken bone in his right hand after being hit by a pitch. Rehabbing through the winter, he started the 2013 season in Boston, only to find himself sent back to AAA Pawtucket after he struggled in the early part of the year. He came back up for good in August and remained with the team through the playoffs and World Series. In 169 regular season games covering 2012 and 2013 - just a handful over a full major league season - he has hit 32 home runs and an equal number of doubles, and driven in 103 runs. He's regarded as a good defensive third baseman with an above-average arm.
Recently, we took a look at some of the issues Middlebrooks dealt with concerning his problems at the plate.
2013 REGULAR SEASON:
Appearing in 94 regular season games, Middlebrook hit 17 home runs and drove in 49 runs. Though he slugged 6 home runs in April and another 2 in May, he struggled at the plate and ultimately found himself losing playing time in favor of Jose Iglesias. By late June he'd been sent down to Pawtucket to work on his swing (and according to reports, his attitude as well). When he returned in August, there was a noticeable difference - like a .322 batting average, .475 slugging percentage, and a .406 on-base percentage for the month. Though those numbers would decline in September, he did hit 7 home runs in the final month of the season to finish with 17 for the year.
Regular season grade - C
Two things happened to Will Middlebrooks in the 2013 postseason - neither he nor Stephen Drew hit a lick. Manager John Farrell opted to keep Drew in for his defense and ultimately chose to put rookie Xander Bogaerts at 3rd base in the World Series.
Postseason grade - Incomplete
There is all kinds of speculation about what 2014 will bring for Middlebrooks. Some fans want the Sox to move him to first base, especially if free agent Mike Napoli should sign elsewhere. If Stephen Drew resigns with Boston, Bogaerts and Middlebrooks would both by vying for the 3rd base job, which would lead to the idea that one of them - Middlebrooks in particular - is headed out of Boston in a trade.
The guess here is that for all his flaws that were exposed in 2013, Middlebrooks is a rare commodity - a young corner infielder who fields his position well and can hit for power. I don't see him going anywhere in the offseason.
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