DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If the job of a young minor leaguer is to capture the attention of the big-league manager in spring training, Bryce Brentz has already succeeded.
Brentz, playing Wednesday in just his second Grapefruit League game as an extra outfielder, grabbed Bobby Valentine's manager with his only at-bat of the afternoon -- a single in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Speaking about some of the younger players who filled out the lineup in a 3-3, nine-inning tie, Valentine, unprompted said: "I can tell you this, one kid is a little different: the Bryce kid, when the ball comes off his bat, it's a little different.''
Valentine said it was the second time this spring that Brentz had managed to stand out. Earlier in camp, he had noted Brentz in a group of young hitters taking batting practice.
"That means a lot,'' said Brentz afterward. "It's my first game to come up here with the big boys and for him to make a generous statement like that, it makes you feel good as a young player.''
A sandwich pick in 2010, Brent was named co-offensive player of the year in the Red Sox minor league system. He split time between Low A Greenville and High A Salem last year and hopes he might be ready to try Double A this year.
"They told me I'm competing for a spot at a higher level,'' said Brentz. "It depends on how hard I work and what I do. I think I'm ready to get up to Double A. Last year was a good seaso (at Salem), but it wasn't really that big of a difference (compared to Low A), talent-wise. I'm ready for a higher challenge, personally.''
Brentz hit 30 homers between his two stops, a huge number for the lower minors where seasons are shorter and the quality of pitching can vary greatly.
"I always had power in BP,'' said Brentz, "but in my first (pro) season, I struggled. So last year was more (a matter of) toning it down a little and getting back to basics. I didn't miss the fastball and went from there. I stayed focused and stay through the middle and not trying to hit a ball 700 feet when 400 does a pretty good job.''