The Red Sox drafted Bryce Brentz back in 2010, but he never lived up to the hype. Now he’s back with the organization and ready to prove himself.
The first loss of the year for the Red Sox came on Monday vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates when the bullpen failed to hold on to a late lead. The final score obviously doesn’t matter much in a spring training game, but there are still some notes on the box score that might cause New Englanders to do a double take.
Most notably, the fact that Bryce Brentz went yard in the second inning. Yes, that Bryce Brentz. The long-forgotten Red Sox prospect is back and ready to prove once and for all that he belongs at Fenway Park. Whether he’ll actually get that opportunity is another question entirely.
The former prodigy was drafted by the Sox all the way back in 2010. At the time, many scouts and analysts anticipated him to be the equivalent of what Andrew Benintendi is now. Almost a decade later, those baseball experts are still wondering what went wrong.
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Brentz rose rapidly through Boston’s farm system before getting stuck in Triple-A. His progress stalled and other blooming prospects quickly took the spot that was supposed to be his. Soon Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and Benintendi all passed him by on their way to the bigs. Brentz, meanwhile, was still toiling away in Pawtucket.
It’s not like he was performing badly down there either. Others were just performing better. By the time Brentz finally figured out Triple-A pitching in 2016, it was too late. The Sox had already found an outfield contingency they really liked, consisting of three other Killer B’s (Benintendi, Bradley Jr., Betts).
The outfielder briefly saw some action in the MLB in 2014 and 2016, where he hit well both times but failed to stick around long enough to convince anyone that the success was legit. When it came time to cut down the roster at the end of the 2017 season, the front office finally decided to throw in the towel on Brentz.
The former first rounder spent all of 2018 with the Mets minor league affiliate, again failing to ascend to the major leagues. Now, nearly nine years after first joining the organization, Brentz is back in spring training after signing a one-year minor league deal. While no outfield spots are currently available on the roster, there is certainly a chance for the 30-year-old to wind up contributing at some point in 2019 if he impresses early on.
Injuries, unfortunately, happen all the time. If an outfielder goes down, Brentz could be given the chance to fill in. His 46 home runs with an .877 OPS at Triple-A level the last two seasons prove that his impressive bat can make up for his lackluster defense. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he could see some time with the Sox this season if someone goes down.
Brentz is surely aware that his baseball career hasn’t panned out the way that everyone had hoped. Now he’s hoping he can at least somewhat salvage it by showing the team that drafted him that they were right to think so highly of him.
That home run yesterday, though meaningless to almost everyone else, was big for Brentz. It’d be the first step on his path to redemption. Now is the time for him to prove to the Red Sox, and also to himself, that he belongs in Boston.