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Will Middlebrooks offers scouting report on Chris Carpenter, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout

02.22.12 at 10:32 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Arizona Fall League typically assembles many of the top prospects in the game. Last fall was no different.

As a result, third baseman Will Middlebrooks — the consensus top prospect in the Red Sox system — had a fascinating vantage point to observe some elite talent while playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Though his AFL season was cut very short by virtue of a left thumb sprain incurred while chasing a foul ball, the experience was nonetheless memorable.

Middlebrooks was on the same team as outfielders Bryce Harper and Mike Trout — considered the top two prospects in the game — and also had a chance to face right-hander Chris Carpenter, the pitcher whom the Sox acquired from the Cubs as compensation for the departure of former GM Theo Epstein. Here are some of Middlebrooks’ observations on those players:

On Carpenter: “I only faced him once. All I remember is he threw hard and had good stuff. He was one of the guys who was a later-innings guy, who came in and threw hard — good, hard stuff: hard fastball, hard slider. It was definitely good. … He didn’t have any control issues against us.”

On Trout and Harper: “Good guys, man. Stupid tools. They’re going to be really good for a long time.”

On what stood out first about each: “For Trout, speed. His jumps on balls in the outfield, it’s crazy to watch him out there. Then Harp, it’s his power, man. His pop. He’s so strong. His hands are so fast. If you throw it 120 (mph) up there, he’s going to find a way to square it up. He may miss the first two, but you’re not going to beat him more than once or twice. He’s going to make you pay. … He would flick balls out to left, and hit them out like righties would hit them. The most impressive thing was, we were down by one, there were two men on base and he said, ‘Hey, man, if I get up and get a chance, I’m going to hit a three-run walkoff homer.’ Everyone was like, ‘Shut up, man. No you’re not.’ Second pitch — he took it up and in, then the guy throws him a slider and it was like, ‘Whack.’ Dead center. Walkoff. We were all like, ‘Man, we’re never going to hear the end of this.’”

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