The situation: With Boston's starting third baseman, Kevin Youkilis (back), being placed on the disabled list, Will Middlebrooks, 23, has a chance, at least temporarily, to show what he can do. Prior to getting the call, Middlebrooks was one of the hottest hitters in the minor leagues (.333 AVG/.380 OBP/.677 SLG in 24 games for Triple-A Pawtucket).
Background: A fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft, Middlebrooks got close to first-round-bonus money to avoid going the college route. He took the offer, but early returns were not especially promising. His defense has always impressed, but his bat required some patience. He hit just .265 with seven home runs in his full-season debut. But after showing signs of life in 2010, he had a breakout campaign last year, including a .302/.345/.520 line for Double-A Portland in 96 games, including 18 home runs. This year's impressive numbers include a two-week stretch during which he hit eight home runs in 12 games.