October 22, 2013 at 8:00 AM
SoxProspects.com is counting down its season-end top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and previewing what's ahead in 2014. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.
#18: Bryce Brentz, OF
2013 Teams: GCL Red Sox/Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 368 PA, .262/.313/.487, 19 HR, 18 2B, 21 BB, 90 K
Season in Review: Coming off an impressive 2012 season, 2013 did not start off as planned for Brentz, who missed much of Spring Training recovering from an injury due to an accidental gun discharge. Brentz was ready for the start of the year, however, and he was his typical, power-hitting self, putting up a .272/.321/.487 line with 16 home runs in 75 games through July 5, almost perfectly in line with his career averages. On July 5, Brentz injured his knee sliding into second base and suffered a torn meniscus, leading many to think his season was over following surgery. But after healing rapidly, Brentz joined the GCL Red Sox on a rehab assignment in late August and returned to Pawtucket on August 25, homering in his first game back. Post injury, Brentz only appeared in seven games for Pawtucket, hitting .167 with a home run and three RBI, then hitting .118 in eight playoff games. Despite the shortened season, Brentz was named a 2013 SoxProspects.com All-Star, as his 19 home runs tied for the system lead and his .487 slugging percentage good for third.
First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: In his 75 games prior to his knee injury, Brentz continued to show the strong power numbers that have been a hallmark throughout his career. Anyone who has seen Brentz take batting practice can tell you the ball jumps off his bat and he can launch balls over the fence with the best of them. His weaknesses at the plate, however, stem from an overaggressive approach and a general lack of discipline, evidenced by his 76-to-19 K/BB ratio prior to injury this season. In the field, he has a strong arm in right, and looks well-suited for the position defensively at the major league level. He can occasionally misplay fly balls, as he did most notably in the 14th inning of Game 3 of the Governors' Cup finals when he took a poor route and the ball sailed just over the top of his outstretched glove, allowing what would ultimately be the winning run reach. Overall, he’s about average in right field and improving his routes.
When thinking of Brentz, former Red Sox prospect Josh Reddick often comes to mind; someone who has the tools and minor league track record, but doesn’t necessarily fit the Red Sox philosophy well. Though they are not the exact same type of hitter, both have big power at the plate and big arms in the outfield, tools that can’t be taught but may be valued more heavily by another team. For this reason, Brentz could be on the trade block this winter. There is no 40-man roster crunch this offseason, as has been the case in the past, but that Brentz needs to be added to the roster without a clear path to playing regularly in Boston in the near future adds to this possibility. If he is not traded, he will be the starting right fielder in Pawtucket next season out of spring training, and he and Alex Hassan will vie for first shot at a call-up when an extra outfielder is needed. – Matt Huegel
#17: Deven Marrero, SS
2013 Team: Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
Final Stats: 461 PA, .252/.338/.317, 2 HR, 20 2B, 52 BB, 76 K, 27 SB
Season in Review: Marrero entered his sophomore campaign with an invite to major league spring training, a rarity for a player entering his first full season. The 23-year-old shortstop started the year with High-A Salem and hit .294/.400/.451 with eight doubles. A hamstring injury sidelined the shortstop at the end of April, causing him to miss the early part of May. After struggling at the plate directly following his return from the disabled list, Marrero picked it up, hitting .298/.385/.355, from May 29 through July 11. Marrero slumped some after that stretch, hitting .215/.311/.290, but on the strength of his outstanding defense at shortstop and baserunning prowess (21 SB in 23 SBA), he was promoted to Portland on August 12. Marrero was challenged by the promotion, as he hit just .236/.321/.236 in 19 games with the Sea Dogs.
First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Marrero’s value in the major leagues will likely be dependent on how well he hits. As a fielder, he is close to a finished product; he is calm, rangy, and projects as above-average at shortstop. Despite a quick swing, Marrero’s offense lagged a bit in 2012. He was hitting well before a hamstring injury sidelined him early in the season—eight of his 20 doubles came before he went on the disabled list on April 23—but he had enough time to reestablish a rhythm that the lack of power he showed throughout the season is still a red flag. There’s plenty of value in a player like Marrero should he hit enough, but whether he does so in 2014 will be a good gauge of what to expect going forward. After a difficult month adjusting to the level, he will return to Portland to start next season. – Jon Meoli
Photo credit: Bryce Brentz and Deven Marrero by Kelly O'Connor.