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.