Is Will Middlebrooks the Best Prospect in the Red Sox' Minor League System?

By Alastair Ingram

The Red Sox are in the process of rebuilding the top end of their farm system after dealing away three of the organization’s best prospects in the Adrian Gonzalez trade last winter.

Right-hander Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo represented arguably Boston’s top two prospects, and speedy outfielder Reymond Fuentes was the team’s first round pick in 2009.

ESPN’s Keith Law has released his updated list of the top 50 prospects in baseball, and the only Red Sox prospect featured is Will Middlebrooks at number 42.

Here is Law’s analysis of Middlebrooks: “He still has to work on recognizing off-speed pitches and working the count. Otherwise, he should be a plus defender at third who hits 25-plus homers.”

Middlebrooks is a 6’4, 200 pound third baseman currently playing in Double-A for the Portland Sea Dogs. In 63 games, he’s batting .315 with nine home runs, 43 RBI, and a .498 slugging percentage.

Middlebrooks was the only Red Sox minor leaguer to be selected for the MLB Futures Game, which was played prior to the All-Star Game in Phoenix this week.

The infielder was selected by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2007 draft out of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas.

His batting average and slugging percentage have improved every year since he began playing minor league baseball in 2008, and his .857 OPS this season is nearly 90 points higher than it’s ever been.

Still, Middlebrooks has only walked 16 times in 2011 (consistent with his career walk rate), and as Law notes, plate discipline might be his biggest area for improvement at the plate.

Among the organizations other top prospects are outfielder Ryan Kalish, shortstop Jose Iglesias, and right-hander Anthony Ranaudo.

Alastair Ingram is the lead Boston Red Sox writer for the Follow him on Twitter at @AlastairIngram. For daily Red Sox updates, follow the blog at @FenwayReport and join the fan page on Facebook.

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