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With Kevin Youkilis (back stiffness) landing on the disabled list, the Boston Red Sox will call up hot cornerman Will Middlebrooks from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Following up on his 23-homer 2011, the 23-year-old (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) has nine in 93 Pawtucket at-bats while essentially hitting off a tee: .333/.380/.677 with 27 RBIs and three swipes. After drawing 26 walks in 439 at-bats through three minor league stops last year, he already has earned seven in 93, showing progress in his plate discipline.
KFFL prospect guru Chris Hadorn lauds Middlebrooks' plate coverage and all-fields approach, which despite limiting his short-term power potential could ease the transition to facing big-league pitching and fantasy utility.
The preseason feeling was that Middlebrooks would spend a full season developing among International Leaguers. Ergo, Boston's desire to summon him likely means a Youk-less 3B is his to lose, making him a deep mixed CI addition and bringing joy to his AL-only stashers.
Even with his improved patience, rough spots will come, and Boston has versatile alternatives in Mike Aviles and Nick Punto if Middlebrooks scuffles. But if he accrues close to a full season, expect low double-digit homers with a capable (not excellent) clip along some tasty trimmings that come from this lineup.
Downside for 2012: an expensive two-week rental. Upside: a shade below the 2011 Eric Hosmer. Expect something in the middle.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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