Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Brentz deserves a shot in the big leagues

It is no secret that the Red Sox have a ton of outfield depth. As slated right now, Shane Victorino will be the starting right fielder, Jackie Bradley Jr. or Grady Sizemore will occupy center, and Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes will be platooning in left field. Five quality options with only four spots up for grabs.

The clash for the last spot will be hard-fought this spring between Bradley Jr. and Sizemore. One of these guys, along with a plethora of other candidates will just miss the cut and will either be released or sent back down to Pawtucket. Corey Brown and Scott Cousins will certainly be starting in Pawtucket and so will outfield prospect Bryce Brentz.

Brentz was expected to be a fierce competitor last season in spring training, but an unfortunate injury sustained from an accidental discharge from the gun that he was cleaning, dismantled any chance of Brentz being on the roster come Opening Day. So he missed almost half of the season, but did perform well in the 82 games that he did play in, hitting for a strong .264/.312/.475 slash line. He is now entering his age 25 season, and the highly touted prospect should be on the roster come Opening Day 2014.

Without an unforeseen injury occurring in camp there will be no chance of this happening, but it should.

Early on this spring, he has already showcased flashes of excellence. Brentz hit a bomb against the Twins and a RBI single today against the Orioles. He looks strong on the defensive side of the ball too, displaying good range and quick feet. He seems unfazed being the lone member on the Red Sox spring “A-team” not to have any MLB experience. In fact, if you have never watched baseball in your life, you would probably say that Brentz would be one of the seasoned veterans in the lineup.

His statistics in the minor leagues demonstrate a MLB-ready prospect. Below are his statistics in which a decent sample size can be judged.

2010 (A-): 286 PA- .198/.240/.340

2011 (A): 186 PA- .359/.414/.647

2011 (A+): 321 PA- .274/.336/.531

2012 (AA): 504 PA- .296/.355/.478

2013 (AAA): 349 PA- .264/.312/.475

The power is clearly the focal point of the package that Brentz brings to the table. He also gets on base at a solid rate, albeit not a great percentage. The right-handed hitter has more pop in his bat then any of the Red Sox current outfielders.

Nava is strictly an on base guy and the power surge he had last season will not carry over into 2014, indicated by his very high .352 BABIP (batting average on balls in play). Victorino, obviously, is the Red Sox best outfielder but power is not necessarily something that he has made a career off of. Lastly, Gomes, who has shown a lot of raw power in the past, struggled last season in the power department, mustering a low .426 slugging percentage.

Brentz’s bat being penciled in the lineup everyday, could be a huge asset for the Red Sox — especially with power hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalmacchia departing from the club. Even as the fourth outfielder on the team, he could be utilized as a potent pinch-hitter and quality defensive spot starter, unlike Mike Carp.

Brentz deserves a chance to play in the Major Leagues. He has worked very hard and has paid his dues in his lengthy minor league career. If the Red Sox decide that they are content with the question marks surrounding their outfield — with the exception of Victorino, then it might be the proper time to trade Brentz for a quality utility infielder who could play the part of a safety net for the erratic Will Middlebrooks. The Red Sox achieve nothing by sticking him back down in the minors. It is time to get something back for Bryce Brentz.

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  • Conor Duffy

    Brentz will see the majors in 2014, but there’s no way that he should start the season in the majors. In the past, you’ve made it clear that you’re not a big fan of Middlebrooks but Brentz is basically Middlebrooks with less upside. They both have a ton of raw power and have struggles with striking out too much and walking too little. I’d like to see the Sox give Brentz a shot at some point, but with so much outfield depth especially in the corners, now is not that time. I’m not sure how much they’d get by trading him but they should certainly be exploring options.

    • Patrick Green

      Brentz has better plate discipline than Middlebrooks does. I cannot say that Brentz will be a much better defensive asset than Middlebrooks currently is, but I find it hard to believe from the short sample size that I have watched from Brentz that he will be as bad as Middlebrooks on the defensive side of the ball. .426 SLG is not going to cut it — especially when that is the only facet of the game that he thrives in. In my opinion with the exception of Victorino he is almost as good as Gomes, Nava, Bradley Jr, and Sizemoe if not better. Middlebrooks’ 2012 campaign was highly BABIP driven and so was his minor league numbers. Brentz’s BABIP was neutralized to normal last season in Triple-A and he sustained a very good slash line.

      • Conor Duffy

        In their respective minor league careers, Brentz has walked 7.3% of the time and struck out 24.7% of the time while Middlebrooks has walked 7.5% of the time and struck out 25.6% of the time. They are virtually identical in those regards. Offensively, they are very similar players but few would argue that Brentz has a higher ceiling than Middlebrooks. He may wind up being better than him defensively, though. Plus, we can’t rule out the fact that Brentz has never faced major league pitching. Minor league stats do not necessarily carry over to the major leaguers, and the ones that do (plate discipline and strike zone stats) don’t point to Brentz being an everyday major leaguer. I’d love him to prove me wrong, but I don’t see him as being any better than Middlebrooks or anyone the Red Sox currently have in the outfield competition.

  • John Finn Jr

    If you look at the contracts of the Red Sox players and the age of them to, you will see that the biggest needs are going to be DH, 1B, and the outfield. Getting rid of our top outfield prospect would be foolish, because between now and 2017 the quality of the free agents at those positions are rotten each year. We will be needing a power hitter too. That’s what Brentz is. Personally, I hate platooning players. All platooning means is that you do not have a player good enough to hit well off of both lefties and righties. Brentz is a corner outfielder and he could play left field. He could also play right field should Bradley fail and they move Victorino to center. Remember Sizemore is not even guarateed to make the majors. You can bet that if Brentx impresses them in September he will be a starting outfielder by 2015 in Boston.By the way, in case you have not realized it, there are not a lot of high quality utility infielders out there. If there was, they would not be utility infielders, they would be starting at one position. I was very happy that we got Hererra. He was far better than any free agent utility infielder.Mookie Betts will be coming up in the next couple years too. With Pedroia at second base, he will have to be a utility infielder until Pedroia jump at those balls anymore. They will not trade him either.

    • Patrick Green

      I am not a fan of Hererra at all. He is a horrible, horrible hitter, and if you have read any of my previous work on here, I have made that clear. I am very skeptical of Will Middlebrooks and his ability to be an everyday third basemen. I believe that the Red Sox must get someone in the likely chance that Middlebrooks struggles. Although, Hererra would be a good option if they had two proven infielders on the left side of the infield. They don’t and penciling Hererra in the lineup everyday will be detrimental to the lineup’s potency, competing in the toughest division in sports. Mookie Betts is too good to play the role of a utility man. I think they will either end up trading him or moving him to a different position. I was looking more towards the 2014 season with this post, and what they need to do to reclaim the AL East and ultimately the World Series. I think that Brentz would be a better option than Nava, Gomes, Bradley, and Sizemore. He has power in his bat that is much desired. They are doing no good sticking him down in Triple-A again. He won’t be starting in 2015 either. The OF is set to be Victorino in RF, Bradley Jr. in CF, and Nava in LF. No room. If they are confident with the question marks surrounding their outfield that by all means trade him to fill another pressing need.

      • John Finn Jr

        Well, I think people need a little more experience in baseball than just being a fan to write about it. Judging Middlebrooks without even really knowing him is the old Mayan Prophecy Disease. One person says something that may not even be true, and the gossip catches fire. There was no Mayan Prophecy. It was made up by a writer. When people were yelling “Get rid of Pedroia !” after two bad months in his rookie year, I said “I think that by the end of the season you will love this guy” and he went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award. Those same people are the ones who say “He’s my favorite player !” today. When people were yelling “Get rid of Ortiz !” when he had a bad 3 months in a season, a few seasons ago, I said “He’ll come around”. He then went on to hit more home runs after the all star break more than any other major leaguer, and those same people are saying “Extend his contract !” now.

        I suggest that you do not allow yourself to get sucked in by the writers who make a grain of sand look like a desert in their columns, so they can sell an article. He’s a good player and in 2 half seasons, he has hit the long ball very well. I think he had about 30 home runs in 2 half seasons. He is a better fielder at 3B than Cechhini too. I don’t go by gossip, I go by statistics, because I am a statistician and have worked for the Red Sox. I think you will find that most people do not agree with Peter Gammons or Bill James, even though those two are correct at what they say almost all of time.

        The Red Sox would be fools to get rid of Brentz when their outfield is on it’s way out. Victorino’s contract is up after the 2015 season. Who will play right field? Gee, that’s where Brentz plays ! What if Victorino re signs, then we can get rid of platooning people and use Brentz in left field. Gomes’s contract will be up in 2015 also. Nava is year by year. Gomes and Nava platooning just means we need two players to play one position which is a waste of a player on the 25 man roster. If we had a leftfielder who can hit both lefties and righties we would not need that extra outfielder for a platoon either, but we could put that 25th man where he is needed more.
        By 2016, expect Napoli, Nava, Gomes,Victorino and Ortiz to be gone. The free agent market in 1B, Of and DH are pretty bad up to 2017. With Papi and Napoli gone, they will need a couple sluggers too. Right now our only hope at 1B is Travis Shaw and he is unproven. OF is Brentz, and no DH. I expect the Red Sox to trade some prospects for those players, but with Brentz earning the league minimum, he would be a steal and they could afford to pay another player that they trade for Personally, I am hoping on Matt Kemp, should he prove that he is back at it again.

        Like I also said, Betts is too good to get rid of. He should replace Pedroia, but it does not mean he will, though I have a feeling that time will answer that question, as no second baseman for the Red Sox has ever played as long as Pedroia will, when his contract is up. If Pedroia is still at it, then Betts may have to do a Chone Figgins imitation and play in many games at many positions, including the outfield, until Pedroia backs away.

        In a message dated 3/3/2014 11:23:22 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, [email protected] writes:

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        A new comment was posted on _BoSox Injection_ ( 7648613&behavior=click&url= -deserves-a-shot-in-the-big-leagues/#comment-1268593676:52wJeZm58iAwv9hzWqh5 RSHqg7Q&post=1268593676&

        • Patrick Green

          I have played baseball for ten years, so I am familiar with the game and the, I guess, old-school thinking behind baseball. It depends what stats you base your opinions off of — old school vs. new school, because the new ones do make a lot of sense and I, myself, am a member of Sabr. You can see Pedroia’s minor league numbers and clearly see that he was going to be special, despite his struggles on the onset. I referenced in my article what I have seen from him thus far too, with my eye and how I think that we may have something special here. I also am not a big fan of Nava, Gomes, or Bradley from a game perspective.

    • Willy

      Betts doesnt have to be a Utility Player and possesses far too much skill to be stuck in that position. They have started playing him at SS, so there’s always that position as an option.

  • Willy

    I’m not disagreeing but the Sox already have a good utility guy, his name is Jonathan Herrera.

    • Patrick Green

      I’ll say it again — in the scenario that Middlebrooks struggles, there is no way that the Red Sox can survive with his 69 career OPS+ in the lineup on a daily basis.

      • Willy

        I agree with you but then again I want Drew back and move Bogey to 3rd so… OR if they dont want him back then go get Chase Headley, who is in a contract year so you know he’ll put up good numbers. I am just as skeptical when it comes to WMB, I have serious doubts about him.

        • Patrick Green

          Oh, I agree with you 100%. I would absolutely love to create a package for Headley or re-sign Drew. I just think if they chose not to do so, then they need to go for a good safety net for Middlebrooks. Kelly Johnson would have been absolutely perfect.

          • Willy

            Gotcha. Only so many roster spots, wish we didnt have a platoon in LF.

  • Willy

    I have been watching/following Brentz from day 1. I have always liked the kid but I was extremely aggravated when he stupidly cleaned a LOADED gun, WTF! He blew his biggest chance last season. I believe the Sox are still fairly high on him BUT because of his missed time for AAA last year i believe they will stick him back down there for now. He could be a trade chip but I believe the Sox prefer to hang onto him. Dont forget, 1. they dont think of Nava as a full time (starter) player, never have, thats why he’s a part of a platoon and remains part of a platoon. 2. Gomes will be a Free Agent after this season and I dont believe the Sox will re-sign him. 3. The Sox lack depth in the OF with most of their best OF prospects a ways away from the majors, so it’s unlikely they’d move Brentz w/o getting another OF’r in return.