Alex Speier of WEEI.com is now saying that top Boston Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks could be called up as early as today should Kevin Youkilis continue to struggle with back issues. With pitcher Aaron Cook reportedly on his way to Boston, this may mean more roster moves are forthcoming.
Youkilis has missed the last three games and yesterday the Red Sox called up Jose Iglesias to bolster their infield depth. The slick fielding Cuban shortstop could help improve one of the least efficient defenses in the game by taking over at short and moving Mike Aviles to third, but his bat is a serious question mark. Fortunately, the Red Sox can improve their infield defense without conceding an out every time through the line. They can call up Will Middlebrooks to replace the injured Youkilis.
Should the Red Sox place Youkilis on the 15 day DL, this is almost certainly what will happen. That decision could come today as Youk has missed three straight games and there is no clear idea right now just how serious the back issues are. Middlebrooks has been tearing up AAA with a .348/.396/.708 batting line power by nine home runs in just 96 at bats. He is also an excellent defender, which may be almost as important for the Red Sox at this point. The organization wants to make sure that their top prospect is getting at bats everyday at this point in his development, so it seems unlikely that he will be called up to serves as a bench player like the light hitting Iglesias.
Therefore, it appears that Will Middlebrooks’ promotion will go hand in hand with a DL assignment for Youkilis. Since he has not played since Saturday, April 28, Youkilis could be assigned retroactively and be available again Sunday May 13. That would give the young prospect around 30 plate appearances to try to duplicate his minor league success in the show. While this is not a statistically significant sample size, it should be enough time for the Boston coaches and front office to see where Middlebrooks is as a hitter.
Should the Red Sox DL Youkilis, there would need to be an accompanying assignment to make room for Middlebrooks. So, if Youkilis is not sent to the DL, Iglesias would likely be headed back to Pawtucket to make room for Middlebrooks. Of the two, Middlebrooks is far more likely to provide real value now.
Update: It’s official. Will Middlebrooks has been promoted. Kevin Youkilis will be placed on the DL in the next day or two.