DUNEDIN, Fla. — Bryce Brentz, a Single A outfielder, was added to the roster for the game against the Blue Jays and singled to center in his one at-bat.
Bobby Valentine, who threw batting practice to Brentz two weeks ago, is impressed with the 23-year-old, saying that he’s “different” than other prospects in how the ball comes off his bat.
Brentz hit .306 with 30 home runs and 94 RBIs in 115 games for Greenville and Salem last season.
“It means a lot,” Brentz said when apprised of Valentine’s comments. “It’s my first game to come up here with the big boys. For him to make a make a statement like that, it makes you feel good as a young player.”
Brentz struggled in 2010, hitting .198 for Lowell after being a supplemental first round draft pick out of Middle Tennessee State. He said getting his emotions in check was the biggest improvement he made.
“Just tone it down a bit, get back to the basics,” Brentz said. “It was my effort level and that caused my swing to get long. Last year was about staying focused and staying through the middle. Don’t try and hit a ball 700 feet when 400 does a pretty good job.”
Brentz spent some time on the bench today talking hitting with David Ortiz.
“He told me, ‘Keep your eyes open, because you’ll learn something every day.’ He’s right,” Brentz said. “He’s got a pretty good idea.”
Brentz is hoping to move up to Portland this season. A righthanded hitter with power is something the Red Sox could use. In time, Brentz could be that man.
“I think I’m ready to get up to Double A,” Brentz said. “I’m ready for a higher challenge.”
One of the best parts of spring training is seeing players like Brentz, who called reporters “sir” today when he answered a few questions. He also has a handshake that feels like a vise.