Brentz adjusting to Triple-A ball after promotion


Brentz adjusting to Triple-A ball after promotion

PAWTUCKET, R.I. The last week of August was a significant time for outfielder Bryce Brentz. At the beginning of the week he was named the Eastern League player of the week for the previous period. The Red Sox then announced that he would be among the organizations contingent to play in the Arizona Fall League. And he capped the week with a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, the first position player from the Sox 2010 draft class to make it to Triple-A.

Hes had a very good season, said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. Hes had some ups and downs, but hes shown the ability to make adjustments in trying to see what the league or what certain pitching staffs are doing to him, and make the adjustments from there and come back fighting. I think getting his feet wet in Triple-A should be a good experience for him for the last few games of the regular season and for however much exposure he gets in the playoffs. Obviously itll be great for him.

Its been a learning experience, really, Brentz said of this season. Each level provided a new bit of knowledge I got to learn. In Triple A Ive been pressing a little bit, trying to do a little too much maybe at the plate. But Im still seeing some different things I didnt see in Double-A. So its been good.

Brentz response to his promotion is not uncommon for young players. He went hitless in his first four games until Monday, Pawtuckets final regular season game, when he went 2-for-5. After hitting .296 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, a .355 on-base percentage, and .478 slugging percentage in 122 games with Double-A Portland, he hit just .118.167.118 in five regular season games for Pawtucket. But in Wednesdays Game 1 of the Governors Cup best-of-five semifinal series against the ScrantonWilkes-Barre Yankees, Brentz hit his first Triple-A home run, a two-run shot in the eighth inning of the 7-4 win.

Bryce is a really good hitter," Crockett said. Just sometimes takes a little bit of time. He hasnt been up there very long. So I think any kind of ebb and flow in performance is common for hitters, and I think this is part of that. So hopefully hell continue on a little bit of a hot streak through the playoffs.

For Brentz , its all part of the process.

The biggest thing for me has been strike zone management, he said. I still try to do too much and then I dont command the strike zone, and thats just part of being human I think and trying to do more than what you need to be doing. But its also taught me some discipline, what I can do, what I cant. Being consistent.

Brentz, the Sox first-round pick (second by the Sox, 36th overall) in 2010 out of Middle Tennessee State is not the first highly prized prospect to struggle in his first brief taste of Triple-A. Last season, it was Will Middlebrooks who hit just .161 in 16 games for the PawSox before winning the starting third base job with the big league team this season.

PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler figures its just a matter of time before Brentz breaks out.

Its funny, the first game I thought this is going to be like Middlebrooks last year, Beyeler said. Hes a free-swinging kid with a ton of power. And hes had a big year. Hes been on base a lot. Hes probably a little wore out, a little tired. Going to another level theres high expectations. Guys are going to find his holes. Theyre going to exploit him a little bit. You got the veteran guys up here that all hes going to see slider, slider, changeup, slider, show him a fastball, back to the garbage, and hes going to have to make that adjustment. Its not going to come real quick, but hell be OK.

Will Middlebrooks went through that up here last year. Im kind of seeing the same kind of deal here, and it doesnt mean hes not going to perform up here. ..But its going to take some time for him to adjust. But, hell get it going. Thats back to what we talk about -- thats player development. Thats why theyre up here.

Bryce is a confident kid, and the adversity factor is good for these guys. Id rather have him do what hes doing here than do it when he goes up to the big leagues. So itll be a good development experience for him and hell get through it. But hes got a lot of ability. Hes going to be a fun kid.

Beyeler went through similar adjustments with another player another Bryce -- last season when he managed in in the Arizona Fall League.

It was that way with Harper, He said. It took Harper like a week to get a hit out in the
fall league. I just sat there and kept saying I just want to see him run into one of those from batting practice in a game one time. And he finally hit one and it just was really cool to watch. It was hard and it went a long ways. Thats kind of the way I look at Bryce Brentz swinging. Hes going to run into one one of these days and its going to go a long ways.

Brentz, who turns 24 in December, will head out to the fall league in October. With almost six additional weeks of games, it can make for a long season. But, hes looking forward to it.

Oh, yeah, I really am, he said. Its a big experience, a good experience, and just hoping to make the most of it.

And its one step more in the process, one step closer to where he wants to be playing the outfield in Boston.

Im hoping for some time next year. Thatd be really good. Thatd be really awesome, he said. But Im not going to try and play GM. I just take care of what I can take care of and all I can control. They have their own plans and hopefully I can fit in them.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.