Aaron Judge wasn’t the only one putting on a power display Monday night.
In Tacoma, Washington, home of the Rainiers, Pawtucket Red Sox outfielder Bryce Brentz took home the Triple-A Home Run Derby title with 18 final round homers – 38 in total. It’s been a difficult spring for Brentz, who was outrighted from major league camp on March 31 and officially taken off the Red Sox 40-man roster, but last night was another step in his potential path back to a major league roster.
Brentz slugged 16 homers in the first round, more than enough to lead the pack and secure his spot in the second round. At that point, he needed only a handful to earn a spot in the final and decided to conserve his energy after sending four out of the park. With 20 home runs through two rounds, Brentz faced off with hometown favorite Daniel Vogelbach in the final round.
Vogelbach, the Mariners number eight overall prospect, was an early favorite to not just win the derby – but put a ball over the batter’s eye in center field. At 425 feet deep and 29 feet tall, only two players in Pacific Coast League history, A.J. Zapp in 2004 and Shin-Soo Choo in 2005, have hit one over that wall. Vogelbach didn’t take aim for center field, but Brentz did challenge the wall once, only to be rejected by it.
In the end, Vogelbach, who had 19 home runs through the first and second round, wasn’t able to keep pace with Brentz’s 18 final round dingers.
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For the Red Sox minor leaguer, the derby belt is worth more than just bragging rights. His power display validates the work he put in during the early months of the season with Pawtucket’s coaching staff to fix the mechanical errors that ended his spring on a sour note. Per MiLB.com’s Jared Ravich, last night was a special moment in Brentz’s career.
“Pretty special, considering how things started out,” Brentz said. “Coming in and not having the spring I wanted to, still kind of searching through some things mechanically. At one point, I really hit rock bottom and then [Pawtucket hitting coaches Rich Gedman and Bruce Crabbe] and I made an adjustment, started doing a toe tap and just sync up some things. It’s been pretty good.”
Here are the final swings for Bryce in the finals, he puts up a big 17 homers! pic.twitter.com/K6WpGpAMaw
— PawSox (@PawSox) July 11, 2017
He’s also the second consecutive PawSox player to win the Triple-A Home Run Derby after Chris Marrero took the belt home last season.
The 28-year-old is no longer a prospect, but he does have some promise as a potential fourth outfielder in Boston – especially with the season he’s having. He’s currently batting .270 with a .872 OPS, 18 home runs, and 49 RBIs. For more on his season-long reclamation, read Rick McNair’s profile on Brentz.