Bryce Brentz: Number One with a Bullet

Red Sox outfield prospect Bryce Brentz made headlines recently when he accidentally shot himself in the leg while cleaning a gun. The injury wasn’t severe and he’s already returning to practice, but who knew cleaning a handgun could be as dangerous as standing in front of Robin Yount? Thankfully for dynasty owners “firearm handling” is not a category in most fantasy leagues. So what can Brentz do for your fantasy team?

The Breakdown

I was able to see Brentz a few times during the 2012 season. Defensively he is a prototypical corner outfielder and his strong arm makes right field a nice, cozy fit. The athleticism doesn’t stand out but he’s not a bad runner. The speed plays better in the outfield than it does on the base paths and his stolen base totals will likely be in the low single digits each season. As he ages his thick build does have the potential to become more of an issue and slow him down to some degree. I still expect Brentz is going to qualify in the outfield until he’s well into his 30’s.

While he’s no slouch in the outfield, the great appeal of Brentz is clearly his bat. We’re talking plus raw power to all fields. The ball comes off his bat really well and he doesn’t have to square pitches up to drive them. Twenty plus home runs a year is a fair expectation if he continues to made adjustments. I’m less excited the ability of Brentz to hit for average. He’s worked hard since becoming a pro to smooth out his swing but it can still get a little long and loopy at times. Much of his bat speed is driven by his hands and as a result he ends up having to start his swing early to get his hands out in front of him. This exacerbates his pitch recognition issues and the problem will only be further exploited by major league pitchers. I’ve also seen Brentz get pull happy, and when he does he becomes increasingly vulnerable to soft stuff. While he has a fairly selective eye at the plate there’s just too much swing and miss here for anyone to be expecting high batting averages from Brentz. He’s not going to be a mendoza line guy, but he won’t be competing for batting titles either without a whole lot of luck. Something in the .240-.260 range is a pretty reasonable expectation.

The Path to Playing Time

Brentz is expected to begin the season at triple-A Pawtucket. No member of the current Boston outfield is signed beyond 2015 (Shane Victorino). Jacoby Ellsbury is a free agent following the 2013 season and the Jonny Gomes/Daniel Nava/Mike Carp platoon appears to be a short term situation. So the only real long term outfield piece the Red Sox have is likely Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Bradley is a true centerfielder where Brentz is limited to a corner. The current group of starters is not exactly known for durability and that’s another way Brentz could see at bats this season. Bradley might get a look but Brentz is surely at or near the top of the depth chart. The opportunity will likely be there some time in the near future for Brentz, but right field in Fenway Park is spacious while footspeed and range are not strengths of his game. While a move to left field won’t change much for your fantasy team, it could affect how invested the team is in Brentz and what chances he gets.

  • On 40 Man Roster: No
  • Options Remaining: 3

What to Expect

We have a solid but unexciting, two-category (HRs & RBIs) outfielder as long as he hits near the middle of the order. A typical year for Brentz in his prime might be something like a .240-.260 AVG with 17-24 home runs and 0-5 stolen bases.

  • Mixed League Value: Marginal. Perhaps worth owning when he’s seeing the ball well in leagues with 12 or more teams.
  • AL Only League Value: Meat and potatoes corner outfield type who can help you with counting stats in a couple categories.
  • Ottoneu Value: Marginally useful in years where he hits for a better AVG.
  • OBP League Value: While Brentz is not averse to taking a walk, his low AVGs will drag his OBP down.

Fangraphs author Marc Hulet ranked Brentz 12th among the Boston Red Sox Top 15 Prospects this Winter




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Al Skorupa writes about baseball & baseball prospects for Bullpen Banter and Fangraphs/Rotographs. He lives in Rhode Island. He watches & videotapes a good amount of amateur and minor league baseball. You can follow him on twitter @alskor.


15 Responses to “Bryce Brentz: Number One with a Bullet”

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  1. Stan Gable says:

    ‘..(the)appeal of Brentz is clearly his bat. We’re talking plus raw power to all fields’

    ‘A typical year for Brentz in his prime might be something like.. 17-24 home runs’

    Has the (admittedly overused & misapplied) definition of ‘plus’ been revamped or something? In broader terms, this cat is pretty much fringe roster filler in all but the deepest of formats in even a best case scenario?

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    • Derb says:

      I’ve been following Brentz fairly closely since his days at MTSU, and there’s no question that this guy has plus power. Trust me, the ball just has a different sound coming his bat than it does for most players.

      This write-up is pretty spot-on concerning his speed, average, and everything else, but I would say the homer numbers may be a bit low. I could easily see him having a couple seasons around 30 if he gets the AB’s and stays in Fenway.

      So to answer your question, I don’t think he will be “fringe roster filler,” but he will also never be a 1st round pick. He’ll be a guy that you will be happy to nab in the middle rounds as a third outfielder, IMO.

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      • Al Skorupa says:

        I did contemplate a higher number for projected home runs but my confidence in it is just not that high. I see some adjustments he could make with his swing, etc… but he’s a physically mature 24 year old college draftee in triple-A. How much more can we project here in terms of advancement? If everything comes together – if he learns to create more bat speed before his hands enter the hitting zone and improves his pitch recognition then, yes, that HR total will look low. In the meantime, most of that raw power shows up only in batting practice. I had to pick a number for purposes of the article but do I certainly think of it as more of a range of potential outcomes.

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    • Al Skorupa says:

      The key word is “raw” power. Hit tool issues and swing & miss prevent much of it from being usable in-game. It also prevents a further portion of well hit balls in the air from going over the fence, rendering them doubles. Even if you have plus raw power it’s often difficult to bring much of that to bear when you’re hitting .240. Another consideration in that projection was playing time. The potential is there for a big year if he runs into some balls, too… but I didn’t want to pump him up as a 30+ home run source for your team at this point.

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      • Derb says:

        Notice I said “a couple” of seasons of around 30 homers :) I certainly don’t project him to string together 6 or 7 30+ home run seasons in a row, but to have a bunch of 20+ seasons with a year or two of 30+ seasons isn’t out of the question.

        I also like the kid and am biased, though. I admit that.

        Very nice write-up, overall.

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      • Al Skorupa says:

        I think that’s very reasonable, Derb. I’m just hedging lower. I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest to see him have a big year like that. I definitely like his game, too.

        Thanks for the complements and thanks for reading.

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  2. Mark says:

    24 hr a year with a lowish avg is pretty similar to Nick Swisher, who just got payed pretty handsomely. I think when people don’t project a prospect to become one of the best players in the league their projections make them look like a worse player than they’d actually be.

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    • byron says:

      Swisher’s average isn’t that bad, and his OBP has been really good, probably 20 points better than what Brentz projects to at his peak. Swisher’s still an OK comp, but I’d be surprised if Brentz has two seasons that are better than Swisher’s sixth-best.

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  3. King of the Byelorussian Square Dancers says:

    “Project” or…..predict?

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  4. Al Skorupa says:

    As was pointed out to me on twitter by Kevin Perreira, Brentz was actually not added to the 40 man yet. Sorry about that. Not sure where I saw that.

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  5. Chris Blessing says:

    Kudos Al!

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    • Al Skorupa says:

      Thanks Chris! Chris writes with me over at Bullpen Banter and he does fantastic work covering prospects. If you’re not familiar with his name I would highly encourage you to give him a look.

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  6. Jeff Reese says:

    Nice first article, Al!

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