The Boston Red Sox came down hard on one of their top prospects, Bryce Brentz, after he accidentally shot himself in the leg back in January. The team had given the future star an invitation to spring training and a chance to make the big league club, but they reneged on that offer when the 24-year-old was injured in a careless gun-cleaning mishap. Now, two weeks into the start of camp, the team is softening its stance.
“We fully expect at some point in camp he’d be over in games here,” said manager John Farrell. “We don’t have the exact date, but we’re hopeful that he (will) get into games on our side.”
That’s quite a change of heart from a team that had seemingly removed the young slugger altogether from their spring plans less than a month ago. The reversal of fortune for Brentz has a lot to do with his potential, but even more to do with his competition—or lack thereof.
The Red Sox have an outfield contingent that’s very light on power. As of now, Jonny Gomes is their top slugger among the corner outfielders with just 32 homers over the past two seasons. Shane Victorino is second with just 28. In the same two-year span, Brentz has hit 47 home runs, albeit in the minor leagues.
Daniel Nava and Ryan Sweeney are the top candidates for a backup outfield spot, but both are struggling right now. After nine Grapefruit League games, Nava is hitting just .250, while Sweeney is batting .154. Neither of the two has a home run or an RBI thus far. Brentz, on the other hand, has proven to an RBI machine in the minors. In 242 games since 2011, he’s knocked in 170 runs—an average of 114 RBI per 162 games. Boston did not have a 100-RBI hitter last season.
Expect the Red Sox to get Brentz into camp sooner rather than later. For a team that will struggle to find power from their outfielders this season, Brentz’ bat could provide a tremendous boost to the offense.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)