June 27, 2010

On Baseball: Several top Sox prospects honing their skills at Lowell

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Kolbrin Vitek

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Bryce Brentz

"You watch him take batting practice and he's hitting balls in the trees out there," Crabbe said, pointing beyond the wall in left-center.

"He has bat speed, plus a cannon of an arm."

Brentz, 6-foot, 195 pounds, was cranking balls out during batting practice Tuesday. And he poked an opposite-field double over the right fielder's head that night. So far, Brentz is batting only .130 (3 for 23).

  • David Renfroe, 19, is also off to a slow start (2 for 23), but Boston is banking on his skills as an infielder and solid hitter.

Like some other Red Sox prospects, Renfroe was a star high school player with a college scholarship in hand, so it took a big bonus for him to turn down the scholarship (which is why a player like Lars Anderson fell to the 18th round and then signed for $800,000).

Renfroe was picked in the third round last year and was given $1.4 million. He signed late and did not play in 2009. He also is playing third base (when Vitek is the designated hitter).

"He's a little overmatched right now," Crabbe said. "Defensively, he's secure. But like I said, there will be growing pains for a lot of them."

  • Brandon Jacobs, 19, is 5-11 and 240 pounds. He was going to be a running back for Auburn until Boston drafted him in the 10th round last year and signed him for $750,000. He's an outfielder who can crush the ball.

"Very raw. Athletic. Just has to learn to do it every day," Lombard said.

He's batting .333 (8 for 24) with three doubles and four RBI.

  • Madison Younginer, 19, was considered "one of the best raw arms in the (2009) draft" according to Baseball America. He dropped to the seventh round, where Boston took him and gave him close to first-round money ($975,000).

He has a 95 mph fastball, a hard curve and a developing change-up.

In his pro debut last week, Younginer pitched five scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three.

"He worked efficiently and effectively and was able to command the fastball, getting it to the lower half of the zone," Lowell pitching coach Laz Gutierrez said. "That was pretty impressive for a kid of that age."

But inconsistency is the norm at this level. Younginer struggled in his last start on Thursday, allowing six hits and six earned runs.

  • Roman Mendez, 19, signed with Boston three years ago as a free agent from the Dominican. He throws a fastball and a slider, with emphasis on the P-word (potential).

Mendez recorded a 1.99 ERA in the Gulf Coast League last year. In his last start for Lowell, his allowed two hits and one run over five innings.

There are other potentially strong players in Lowell, including starters Tyler Wilson (plus sinker) and Hunter Cervenka (power left-hander), and center fielder Felix Sanchez (Ellsbury-plus speed).

If their potential pans out, these players will climb the minor league rungs, eventually landing in Hadlock Field, with their sights on Fenway. 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

 

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