This is a new series focusing on a player or two a week in the minor leagues that may or may not make an impact this year.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Because of the strikeouts and overall questions about plate discipline, Middlebrooks does have some questions about his upside. However, that upside includes the potential for a lot of power and the fielding ability should help him stay at 3B. His ETA at the beginning of the year was in late 2012. Despite the brouhaha with Kevin Youkilis and Bobby Valentine, it does seem that Middlebrooks will need a trade. He's off to a hot start at AAA, so is worth monitoring. Would the Red Sox consider moving him to the outfield at some point to get his bat into the line-up if he continues to rake?
A.J. Griffin, P, Oakland Athletics
Griffin falls under the radar as a prospect because of an average fastball (88-92 MPH). However, he has four pitches he can throw for strikes and refinement in his secondary pitches led John Sickels to identify him as a breakout candidate for 2012. He's only at AA right now, but his strong numbers in three starts at Midland make it appear that he should at the very least be promoted to AAA. There are a lot more highly heralded arms ahead of Griffin in the system, but the MLB roster is thin on arms and I wouldn't be surprised to see Griffin up at some point this summer.