Power was on display in the Red Sox minor league system during the 2010 season.

In Portland, Anthony Rizzo was launching home runs into neighboring Fitzpatrick Stadium. The Red Sox system also featured a couple of pull-happy, left-handers in Josh Reddick (Pawtucket) and Jeremy Hazelbaker (Greenville).

And in the June draft, the Red Sox picked a masher from Middle Tennessee State in the supplemental round (36th overall). Outfielder Bryce Brentz hit 61 home runs over three college seasons and the Red Sox signed him for $900,000 to keep doing the same for them.

Six years later, Boston is looking for power. Rizzo (Cubs), Reddick (Athletics) and Hazelbaker (Cardinals) are hitting homers for other major league teams. The Red Sox are tied for last in the American League with 13 home runs, and no one has more than two homers at the Triple-A or Double-A levels.

Brentz, 27, is back with the Sea Dogs, for now, trying to recapture the swing and oomph that once showed so much potential.

In 2011, Brentz hit 30 home runs combined in Class A Greenville (11) and Salem (19).


Brentz cooled to 17 home runs in 2012 for Portland, but with a .296 average and .833 OPS.

Since then, Brentz has mostly teased with his might while sitting with injuries. In the past three years with Triple-A Pawtucket, he hasn’t played more than 82 games in a season (36 home runs in 204 total games), plus a nine-game cup of coffee with Boston in 2014.

Brentz has been sidelined with knee, hamstring and thumb issues. Entering 2016 – Brentz’s last season with minor league options – he arrived in spring training early and optimistic.

Then, during batting practice, a pain shot though his rib cage.

“I thought it was a little tight,” Brentz said.

Brentz tried to play through it and struggled in spring training games (0 for 16, 12 strikeouts). He was finally diagnosed with intercostal muscle strain.


“The muscles between your ribs,” said Brentz, who has become well versed in ailments.

Brentz remained in extended training when the season began. When he was cleared to play, Pawtucket’s outfield was full, but Portland had an opening. He played his first game in four years at Hadlock on Friday night (a single in four at-bats).

“I didn’t feel any (pain) so that was a confidence booster,” Brentz said.

After three stifling seasons, maybe a healthy year is ahead of him.

“It’s been frustrating but at the same time, it’s part of it,” Brentz said. “Half the battle is staying on the field. I feel like I’m in a good spot – fingers crossed, knock on wood, any other superstition I have to do, I’ll do it.”

MEANWHILE, THE RED SOX have traded some of their big bats, led by Rizzo. He has eight home runs for the Cubs this year after totaling 63 the past two seasons. Reddick was dealt to the A’s, where he has four home runs this year after hitting 20 last season. Hazelbaker was traded to the Dodgers and landed in St. Louis this year, where he is a rookie with four home runs.


PROJECTING POWER can be tricky. Mookie Betts hit zero home runs in 71 games with short-season Lowell in 2012. He swatted 18 in the majors last year and leads Boston this season with four.

BOSTON’S BEST HOME run prospect may be Salem’s Andrew Benintendi, who has 14 extra-base hits this season but no home runs. He broke out with 11 homers combined last year in Lowell and Greenville after being selected by Boston in the first round of the 2015 draft.

The leading home run hitters in the Boston organization can be found in Greenville – Josh Ockimey and Kyri Washington, both with five. One disclaimer about Greenville is the ball carries well in Fluor Field and its “Green Monster” is four feet shorter than Fenway’s (and Hadlock’s) and doesn’t extend much into left-center.

Ockimey, 20, is a fifth-round draft pick out of high school in 2014. He is ranked Boston’s 23rd-best prospect by Baseball America. He’s batting .323/1.093. Washington, 21, a 23rd-round draft pick last year out of Longwood University, is hitting .295/.957.

DAVE DOMBROWSKI TOOK a look at Boston’s prospects in Salem last week. The Red Sox president watched first-hand the production of Benintendi (.333/1.013) and Yoan Moncada (.350/.957, 13 stolen bases).

Aaron McFarling of The Roanoke Times asked Dombrowski how he knew when to move a player up. Dombrowski said there was a combination of factors, including “when you can see that a player is just better than the league.”

In the Carolina League, Benintendi and Moncada are third and fourth in batting average. Benintendi is fourth in OPS and Moncada sixth.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.