Patrick Daugherty

Baseball Daily Dose

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Stuck In The Middle With Youk

Thursday, May 03, 2012

After the Red Sox physically and emotionally placed Kevin Youkilis (back) on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, they recalled one of the young season’s top minor-league producers in Will Middlebrooks to fill-in for him.

So how did Middlebrooks — Baseball America’s No. 51 ranked prospect — prove to exacting manager Bobby Valentine he’s ready for the major-league grind? By going 2-for-3 with a double, walk and stolen base. An excellent debut for a player who had been punishing International League pitching to the tune of .333/.380/.677.

But was it a sign of things to come? It’s a topic we’ve delved further into in the past two Prospect Reports, but the short answer is “no.” Before you blow your entire FAAB budget on Middlebrooks, it’s important to remember a few things:

Middlebrooks was a 23 year old repeating a level of the minors before being summoned to Fenway Park. Batting .333/.380/.677 in that situation is what any self-respecting top prospect is supposed to do.

Despite Middlebrooks’ hot start this season, his career-minor league OPS is still just .787. Middlebrooks is a nice prospect, but this isn’t Eric Hosmer or Mike Trout we’re talking about.

Middlebrooks’ fate is tied entirely to Youkilis’. All 376 of Middlebrooks’ professional appearances have come at third base. He’s not an option in the outfield, and is blocked at first base and designated hitter by a pair of All Stars. Even if Middlebrooks rakes, his spot in the lineup will be gone once Youkilis returns to full health, and the early indications are that Youk will be ready to roll when first eligible on May 14.

Should you be excited about a “name” prospect getting the call? Absolutely. Is he worth a flier in all formats while Youk is on the mend? For sure. Will he be a fantasy linchpin, or even a regular contributor, beyond the next two weeks? Probably not.  

Sun Setting on Gamel?

You’ve probably known Mat Gamel’s name a long time. What you might not remember is why you learned it in the first place. There was a time (2008), and another time (2009) and a time after that (2010) when Gamel was one of baseball’s most promising young players.

Only his days in the minor leagues became as numerous as the home runs of the player blocking him at first base in the bigs, Prince Fielder.

Gamel was given chances elsewhere — third base and the outfield — but his defense never came close to justifying his perennially disappointing small-sample sizes.

But even though Gamel never hit during his typically brief call-ups, he never did stop hitting down on the farm, and was finally got his every-day MLB opportunity this season after Prince took his talents to Detroit.

Things started out well enough. Gamel went 2-for-4 in his first game, tripled in his fourth and cruised into April 20 with a .298/.353/.447 triple slash. Only then he went three for his next 22 and tore his ACL.

Now, instead of becoming the former disappointing prospect made good, Gamel is on the verge of being the major-leaguer that never was. And that’s a shame.

Red Sox Latest to Take Flier on Mark Prior

Jon Heyman reported Wednesday that the Red Sox plan to sign former No. 2 overall pick and Cy Young finalist Mark Prior to a minor-league contract.

This, despite the fact that Prior hasn’t thrown an MLB pitch since 2006, and saw his most recent (2011) comeback attempt marred by shoulder, groin and forearm injuries. In other words, just another day at the office for Prior, who has sadly made a living off not staying healthy.

His allure is understandable. He’s still just 31, and went from “prospect” to one of the game’s best pitchers in a matter of one season. But to illustrate just how long six years is, know that:

The Last Time Mark Prior Threw an MLB Pitch: Only four “Harry Potter” movies had been released. … Barack Obama was in his second year as a United States senator for the great state of Illinois. … “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado (featuring Timbaland) was the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. … “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” was the No. 1 movie. … “Borat” was still three months away from release.

You get the idea. While we would wish Mark well, we’re afraid he’d tear his voicebox saying “thank you.”    

Angels vs. Twins Recap

Minnesota’s Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe, Clete Thomas and Jamey Carroll didn’t gets hits. Also, Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver pitched nine innings, allowing just one walk and zero runs.

Game Notes: Heath Bell melted down yet again. Incapable of generating swing-and-misses, Bell figures to be given some “time to think” while Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica sort out the ninth inning. Cishek is the better own. … Bryce Harper went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, RBI and run scored. That’ll do, Bryce, that’ll do. ... A.J. Burnett became the first pitcher since 1918 to allow 12 or more earned runs without completing three innings of work. Somewhere, Vin Mazzaro tips his cap. … Carlos Beltran entered Wednesday in a 3-for-32 slump. He exited it 4-for-5 with two home runs and seven RBI. … Giancarlo Stanton homered for the third time in four contests. Stanton went homer-less in his first 19 games of the season. … Chipper Jones walked off the Braves. … Ian Desmond walked off the Nationals. … Carlos Ruiz drove in seven a loss. … Roy Halladay was staked to a 6-0 lead...and lost.   

National League Short Hops: The words “sore” and “Achilles” mix extremely poorly, but Ryan Braun is believed to be truly day-to-day after leaving Wednesday’s game. … Originally targeting a Sunday return to the hot corner, Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder) now won’t be back until “at least” Tuesday. Same as it ever was. … The Dodgers are “nearing a deal” with Bobby Abreu. … Jorge De La Rosa threw three shutout innings for High-A Modesto in his first rehab outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. He’s on track to rejoin the Rockies early next month. … Initially expected to miss only one outing with soreness in his pitching elbow, Padres lefty Cory Luebke will instead hit the 15-day disabled list. He’s expected to return when first eligible on May 13. In his place, the Friars have decided to start a dumpster fire with Jeff Suppan. … Cliff Lee (oblique) turned in a setback-free bullpen session, and should be activated early next week.

American League Short Hops: Both Josh Hamilton (back) and Adrian Beltre (leg soreness) are expected to rejoin the Rangers lineup on Friday. Hamilton likely would have been back sooner had the Rangers not spent the past three days on the Rogers Centre’s artificial turf. … Dealing with a “little bit of pain from the bone bruise,” Brett Gardner had his rehab assignment shut down. The Yankees are spinning it as a minor setback, but it likely means we won’t see Gardner until late next week at the earliest. … Jemile Weeks sat out with groin tightness. Oakland’s struggling second baseman (thanks to a mind-bogglingly low BABIP) is considered day-to-day. He’ll avoid the disabled list. … Dealing with “cramping" and "tightness" in his right quad, B.J. Upton is day-to-day.    

Going Solely by 2012 Statistical Trends: We will see another Jered Weaver no-hitter before an Albert Pujols home run.

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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