November 1, 2012 at 9:19 PM
Red Sox right fielder Bryce Brentz (pictured) and infielder Michael Almanzar have been selected to play in the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game on Saturday. The game will air live on the MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET.
The game is less an all-star game than it is a showcase of the top talents playing in the circuit, so Brentz and Almanzar's selections say more about their prospect status relative to others playing in Arizona than it does about their performance thus far. The pair has been part of a seven-player Sox contingent playing for the Surprise Saguaros in the annual fall league.
Brentz has played in 12 games for Surprise, hitting .304/.385/.435 with one home run in 46 at-bats. He has reached base in all 12 games, notching hits in all but one. Although his power output has been relatively low, considering both his own strength in driving the ball as well as the hitter-friendly desert environment, Jim Gintonio writes for MLB.com that Brentz has been working on the mental side of the game. Brentz also missed a week in the middle of October, although the reason is unknown at this time. He is ranked sixth in the system by SoxProspects.com after a solid 2012 season, in which he hit .296/.355/.478 for Portland before a brief call-up to Pawtucket at the end of the season.
Almanzar has split his time between third base and first base in Arizona, struggling at the plate to a .235/.328/.275 line in what is, again, generally a hitter-friendly league. After several underwhelming seasons, Almanzar put himself back on the map with a great comeback season in Salem, hitting .300/.353/.458 with 12 home runs. Although he is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft this offseason, it is doubtful that either the Red Sox add him to the 40-man roster or that he will be selected by another team. Almanzar presently sits at 51st on the SoxProspects.com rankings, but could certainly climb quickly if he is able to repeat his performance from this past season in Portland in 2013.
Also of note, former Red Sox minor leaguer Chris McGuiness, now of the Texas Rangers, was also selected for the game. McGuiness, a former Red Sox 13th-round draft choice who was sent to Texas in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade, has been one of the AFL's best hitters with a .288/.386/.508 line with three home runs. However, entering his age 25 season likely ticketed for Triple-A, he is not considered a top prospect despite good numbers in 2012 at Double-A Frisco (.268/.366/.474).
Complete game rosters can be found here.
Photo credit: Bryce Brentz by Kelly O'Connor.