FORT MYERS, Fla. — So many intriguing storylines surround the Boston Red Sox’s outfield that the most underrated development hardly is a blip on the radar.
Grady Sizemore’s progression, Shane Victorino’s health and switch-hitting, and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s second camp with the major league club are among the popular plots pertaining to the Red Sox’s outfield. Meanwhile, Boston is discovering that its outfield depth actually extends beyond the projected major league roster, as both Bryce Brentz and Corey Brown are enjoying solid springs.
Brentz, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a walk in Tuesday’s loss to the Miami Marlins at JetBlue Park, is hitting .409 (9-for-22) with three homers, seven RBIs and a 1.298 OPS in nine spring training games. The power always has been there for Brentz, who has 71 home runs in 399 career minor league games, but the 25-year-old has shown an improved offensive approach this spring.
“When he gets in disadvantaged counts, to still have a productive at-bat, that’s really a step forward,” manager John Farrell said over the weekend.
Brentz also has shown improvement defensively. He demonstrated his strong arm while throwing out a runner at third base in last week’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, then made a diving catch to kick off Tuesday’s tilt with Miami.
Given the Red Sox’s current crop of corner outfielders — Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava and Mike Carp — Brentz likely is destined for Triple-A Pawtucket to begin the regular season. Brentz, who is on the club’s 40-man roster, could receive a call in 2014 if the Red Sox are struck by injuries, though, and it’s entirely possible he could play his way into a big league role by 2015.
Brown, another former first-round pick, was signed by the Red Sox over the offseason after spending the last three seasons in the Washington Nationals organization. Brown, like Brentz, is destined for the minors, but the 28-year-old could be a valuable depth option this season, especially given the Red Sox’s current uncertainty in center field.
“This is a guy that’s got very good tools. He’s obviously got some power. And that’s not just because of the (home run) he hit (Monday), but in his track record, it shows that,” Farrell said Tuesday. “… Every opportunity we can get him on the field to take a look (will help), because when you look at our overall depth with guys (who have) the ability to play center field, once you get past Jackie and the unknown of Grady, this is why we pursued (Brown), to bring him in and provide that depth.”
Bradley might find himself in Pawtucket if Sizemore continues his upward trend — essentially meaning Brentz and Brown could represent Boston’s third line of defense to begin the year. The value of depth can’t be overstated, though, and the Red Sox seemingly have more than initially anticipated.
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