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As Youkilis struggles, Middlebrooks impresses

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  April 18, 2012 10:54 AM

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Kevin Youkilis (6 for 34, one extra-base hit, 12 strikeouts) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2 for 24, 7 strikeouts) are struggling so far this season.

If 2011 taught us anything, it's not to get too wrapped up in April statistics and certainly Youkilis has earned the right to play his way out of his slump. But it's worth noting that third base prospect Will Middlebrooks is hitting .333/.347/.583 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 12 games for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Middlebrooks is an excellent third baseman, too. Now is not the time for rash moves, but Middlebrooks is starting to bang on the door and you can't ignore that forever.

Keep an eye on his walks and strikeouts. Middlebrooks has walked once and struck out nine times. The Sox would like to see him control the strike zone a little better.

Ryan Lavarnway is hitting only .231 but has a .388 on-base percentage thanks to 10 walks. He is another alternative that the Red Sox will have to consider if Salty isn't able to turn it around.

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