You wonder how long the Red Sox can keep Bryce Brentz on the farm without taking advantage of his hot bat?
Pawtucket hitting coach Rich Gedman has done wonders with Brentz, and has now turned him into a major home run threat by introducing a toe-taping procedure. Brentz won the minor league home run derby, and now has 20 homers and 55 RBIs with a .275 average and a .885 OPS.
The right fielder has also started taking ground balls at first base. “I want to try to be as versatile as I can be,” Brentz said. “If I can help in that way, I want that to be an option.”
Brentz, 28, shot himself in the leg when a gun he was trying to clean went off and wounded him three offseasons ago. The Red Sox were down on him and it took him a while to get back in their good graces.
Brentz was a supplemental pick (36th overall) in the 2010 draft after the Sox lost Billy Wagner to free agency. It was the same draft that produced Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale, Christian Yelich, and Noah Syndergaard.
Brentz was considered a power hitter with a very good outfield arm and big things were expected. He hit 30 homers at two Single A levels in 2011. But he has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
“It just took him a little longer,” Gedman said. “But he’s found something now that’s allowed him to time things better.”
“I think I’ve tried everything in the book with my swing but I just think everything is synched up to my toe tap now,” said Brentz. “I’m just trying to be an athlete in the box and I think it’s paying off. My problem in the past was always charging at the ball and this allows me to stay back and let the ball come to me.
“I feel confident in my approach so now it’s a matter of getting that chance again, but your body can’t be here and your head in the big leagues, so I have to keep myself focused on being down here.”
Did he ever consider calling it quits? “It’s just that I had so many injuries that it was hard sometimes putting a good month together and I wondered if I could just stay healthy for a while I might be able to do something. I’ve stayed healthy this year and good things have happened,” Brentz said.
“When I was taken off the roster I knew it would be tougher to get back up there, but that’s part of the process. You have to prove yourself again. I didn’t have a good spring. It was all on me.”
Could he help the Red Sox right now? “I could. You have to have confidence in yourself,” Brentz said. “I feel with the work I’ve put in and results I’ve had I don’t doubt it at all. I continue to work every day on getting better. However it ends up I’ll be fine with it, but the goal of every player down here is to get up there and stay up there. Hopefully it’s opened some doors for me.”
Follow Nick Cafardo on Twitter @nickcafardo.