Middlebrooks with the Red Sox in 2012
|Boston Red Sox – No. 16|
September 9, 1988 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|May 2, 2012 for the Boston Red Sox|
(through May 30, 2014)
|Runs batted in||112|
|Career highlights and awards|
William Scott "Will" Middlebrooks (born September 9, 1988) is an American professional baseball third baseman with the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). Middlebrooks made his MLB debut with the Red Sox on May 2, 2012.
A fifth round draft pick in the 2007 MLB Draft out of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas, Middlebrooks signed with the Red Sox for $925,000, bypassing his commitment to Texas A&M University. Middlebrooks was originally a shortstop, but the Red Sox converted him into a third baseman in the minor leagues. He represented the United States in the 2011 All-Star Futures Game. Following Middlebrooks' emergence as the Red Sox' starting third baseman in 2012, the organization traded former All-Star Kevin Youkilis.
Middlebrooks attended Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas. Middlebrooks played shortstop and pitched for the high school baseball team. As a pitcher, he could reach 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) with his fastball. Liberty-Eylau won the Class 3A state championship in 2006, Middlebrooks' junior season. In his senior season, Middlebrooks had a .555 batting average. He was named to the Class 3A All-State First Team and Class 3A Player of the Year by the Texas Sports Writers Association.
In addition to baseball, Middlebrooks played American football and basketball in high school. A quarterback, placekicker and punter, he played on the school's football team, which also featured LaMichael James. He was named an All-State punter. Middlebrooks admits that he preferred football, until he realized during his junior year that he had the opportunity to be selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. In November 2006, he committed to attend Texas A&M University on a full scholarship to play baseball and football for the Texas A&M Aggies.
Minor league baseball
2007 Major League Baseball Draft. However, the belief that he would follow through with his scholarship to Texas A&M led Middlebrooks to fall in the draft. The Boston Red Sox drafted Middlebrooks in the fifth round of the draft, selecting him as a position player, rather than as a pitcher. He received a $925,000 signing bonus to bypass his commitment to Texas A&M.
Middlebrooks made his professional debut in 2008 with the Lowell Spinners of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League, where he batted .254 with one home run. He described himself as developmentally behind other players at his level because of the time he had devoted to football. Initially a shortstop, Middlebrooks made the transition to third base as he added muscle, increasing from 190 pounds (86 kg) at the time he was drafted to 210 pounds (95 kg).
In 2009, Middlebrooks played for the Greenville Drive of the Class A South Atlantic League, where he batted .265 with seven home runs and 57 runs batted in (RBIs). He was promoted to the Salem Red Sox of the Class A-Advanced Carolina League in 2010 and responded by batting .276 with 12 home runs and 70 RBIs. Middlebrooks began the 2011 season playing for the Portland Sea Dogs of the Class AA Eastern League. He played in the Eastern League All-Star Game, hitting a double in the game. Middlebrooks also participated in the 2011 All-Star Futures Game, starting at third base and going 1-for-2.
Through August 2011, Middlebrooks batted .306 with 18 home runs and 80 RBIs for Portland, at which point he was promoted to the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Class AAA International League. Joe McDonald of ESPN.com called Middlebrooks "Boston's likely [third baseman] of the future" upon his promotion from Portland to Pawtucket. He hit .161 in 16 games with Pawtucket to close out the 2011 season.
After the 2011 season, the Red Sox assigned Middlebrooks to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit four home runs in 13 games and was named to the Rising Stars Game. In November 2011, Middlebrooks, Che-Hsuan Lin and Drake Britton were added to the Red Sox 40-man roster to prevent them from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
Heading into the 2012 season, Baseball America rated Middlebrooks as the Red Sox' best prospect and 51st best prospect overall. Starting the 2012 season with Pawtucket, Middlebrooks hit .333 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs in 24 games and 93 at-bats. Meanwhile, Red Sox starting third baseman Kevin Youkilis struggled, opening the 2012 season batting .219. As Youkilis struggled, Middlebrooks appeared to be ready for a promotion.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox promoted Middlebrooks to the major leagues on May 2, 2012, when Youkilis was placed on the disabled list. He made his MLB debut that day, drawing a walk in his first plate appearance and recording two hits. On May 6, he hit a game-tying grand slam for his first major league home run in what was eventually a 17-inning loss to the Baltimore Orioles. In his first 41 games with the Red Sox, Middlebrooks batted .326 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs, the most RBIs to start a career for a member of the Red Sox since Walt Dropo recorded 37 RBIs in his first 41 career games dating back to 1949-50.
Bobby Valentine, the manager of the Red Sox, initially alternated between Middlebrooks and Youkilis at third base. However, Middlebrooks' emergence led the Red Sox to trade Youkilis on June 23. Middlebrooks was named American League Player of the Week for the week ending June 24. Middlebrooks broke a bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch in a game against the Cleveland Indians on August 10, ending his rookie season with a .288 batting average, 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 75 games played.
On April 7, 2013, Middlebrooks hit three home runs in a 13-0 Red Sox victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto. Two of his home runs were hit off of pitcher R.A. Dickey. However, he lost playing time to José Iglesias after he strained his back in May. After batting .192 on the season, the Red Sox optioned Middlebrooks to Pawtucket on June 25, 2013. The Red Sox opted not to promote Middlebrooks when they traded Iglesias on July 30, using Brandon Snyder and Brock Holt instead. After Middlebrooks made adjustments, the Red Sox recalled him from Pawtucket on August 10. In Game 3 of the 2013 World Series, Middlebrooks was ruled to have obstructed Allen Craig after diving for an errant throw at third base. The play awarded Craig the game winning run for the Cardinals. The Red Sox won the series over the Cardinals.
In 2014, Middlebrooks missed 19 games in April due to a strained calf. In May, he broke a finger, and again went on the disabled list. He had been struggling at the plate to begin the season hitting just .197 with 2 home runs in 21 games. As he rehabilitated his injury in the minor leagues, Middlebrooks began playing in the outfield, due to the Red Sox' signing of Stephen Drew.
Middlebrooks is an athletic defensive player. He hits for power and is also credited for his contact skills, though he is not considered the most patient hitter. His throwing arm is well regarded, and his baserunning is rated as average.
Middlebrooks grew up in Texarkana, Texas. His father, Tom, serves as the head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Liberty-Eylau, and his younger sister, Lacey, played softball for the University of Tulsa. She is now an assistant softball coach at the University at Buffalo. Middlebrooks' mother, Julie, and youngest sister, Mary, are artists; Julie is an art teacher. He has been friends with Ryan Mallett of the New England Patriots since they met in a football camp after Mallet moved to the Texarkana area in the seventh grade.
Middlebrooks was engaged to Ann Lux, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, however they broke up in August 2012. They are from the same hometown and have known each other since age 12. As of the end of the 2013 season, Middlebrooks is dating former NESN reporter Jenny Dell.
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