When Will Middlebrooks steps in to the batter's box at Fenway Park for the first time, he'll have his hands wrapped firmly around his custom made Old Hickory WMB16 bat.
The same type of bat that he's been using to terrorize minor league pitching thus far in 2012.
Early this morning on WEEI-FM's Dennis and Callahan radio show, news broke of Will Middlebrooks receiving the call up to play with the big club. He is expected to bat eighth tonight behind catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and before Marlon Byrd.
He is currently batting .333 with nine home runs, 27 RBI and a .677 SLG for Triple-A Pawtucket this season.
In other words, he's been fantastic.
While all the hype has been surrounding the call-up of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, Middlebrooks deserves plenty of attention in his own right. In his five seasons in the minors, he has progressed in key categories such as batting average, slugging, home runs and RBI. His OBP fluctuated but has leveled out around .333.
On the other side, in a move many thought would have come yesterday, Kevin Youkilis has been placed on the disabled list.
Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe quoted Youkilis as saying:
"I had an irritated joint or whatever in the back that just has been happening for a little bit of time now," Youkilis said. "Basically, the last couple of days have been bad and trying to get through it. Made great strides from yesterday to today. Things are going well but they want to get a step ahead of it and get me as healthy as possible."
Do you think it is too early to call up Middlebrooks?
"It's going to take me three or four days, that's what they're telling me, of just trying to get through and not do too much baseball stuff where it can irritate it more," Youkilis said. "For me it'll be a little bit of time. But the good thing is they know what's going on and it's nothing like a surgery or a major injury."
With Youkilis on the shelf for the next few weeks, the window has been opened for top Sox prospect Middlebrooks to climb in and make a name for himself.
In a city like Boston, the best way to endear oneself to the fanbase is to produce. Though many fans and critics alike believed Middlebrooks needed more seasoning in Triple-A (he has 18 strikeouts in 93 at-bats, roughly every fifth at-bat) he will be thrust into the spotlight that Fenway brings and will either sink or swim.
I for one, see him swimming just fine.