- Full name Jason Douglas Middlebrook
- Born 06/26/1975 in Jackson, MI
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Stanford
- Debut 09/17/2001
- Drafted in the 9th round (260th overall) by the San Diego Padres in 1996.
Organization Prospect Rankings
When Middlebrook was a freshman at Stanford, he was the frontrunner to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft. Then elbow problems limited him to a total of 11 appearances as a sophomore and junior, and he lasted until the ninth round. The Padres signed him for $750,000, still a record bonus for a player selected that low. Middlebrook had more physical problems after turning pro, with a strained elbow in 1999 and a shoulder impingement in 2000. San Diego removed him from its 40-man roster in October 2000 and lost him to the Mets, only to reclaim him off waivers a month later. Healthy in 2001, he looked better than he had in years. He consistently threw 91-94 mph and reached 96 with his fastball. At times he gets a lot of movement on the pitch, though it straightens out when he overthrows. The key for Middlebrook is pitching, rather than just throwing his fastball. He tried to blow the ball by Barry Bonds last September, and gave up three homers to him in the span of five days. When Middlebrook moves the fastball in and out, and mixes it with his plus curveball and his changeup, he's very successful. Getting married before last season seemed to agree with him, as he was more mature and stopped, as one Padres official put it, "finding a way to lose." He'll get a chance to make San Diego's rotation in spring training.
Background: Middlebrook was a candidate to be picked at the top of the first round in 1996 before missing almost the entire season with elbow problems. The Padres gambled a $760,000 bonus--the largest ever for a ninth-round pick--on his return to health and have not been disappointed. Middlebrook was healthy all of 1998 and at his strongest at the end of the season. Strengths: Middlebrook's stuff has returned to its pre-injury levels. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a hard curve that can flash above-average action and bite. Middlebrook's changeup has good deception. Weaknesses: Most of Middlebrook's problems revolve around his command, especially of his big-breaking curve. His fastball will also straighten out in the middle of the plate when Middlebrook gets careless with it. Middlebrook has a stubborn streak that serves him well when he gets in a rhythm but hurts him when he's out of sync. The Future: The past two years have been dedicated to getting Middlebrook healthy and eliminating the fear factor from his approach. The Padres are ready to challenge him this season.