Bryce Brentz, RF
Bryce Brentz's line is the average of tremendous ups and deflating downs -- rarely in 2012 has he actually hit, for an extended period of time, at the rate that the sum of its parts represents. His high-strikeout approach lends itself to this kind of boom or bust timeline. At least as of late, Brentz has been on the boom side of the ledger.
The right fielder is hitting .353/.389/.706 in his last 10 games, with three homers and doubles a piece. He's kept the strikeouts to what constitutes a minimum for Brentz, with eight whiffs in 36 trips to the plate, and has done his best to make everyone forget about a July that helped crush his season line thanks to a 576 OPS. To this point in August, Brentz is at 1306 -- just a whee bit of improvement there.
Post All-Star break, Brentz has shown a low batting average (.256) and walked just six times in 23 games, but he's also posted a .488 slugging and .232 Isolated Power. There's a whole lot to like here at the plate, even if there are obvious holes in his swing, and stretches like the one he's been on the last 10 games serve as a reminder of that, even as his struggles can make you forget.
Travis Shaw, 1B
We checked in on Travis Shaw just a week ago, but immediately following that, he was promoted to Double-A. That kind of jump necessitates a second look. After six games and 28 plate appearances, Shaw is showing some pop and plenty of patience, with four doubles and six walks, but all non-double balls in play have ended up in a glove. You don't want to draw much of a conclusion -- okay, any conclusion -- from a week of games, but it's good to see Shaw's strikeouts and walks are equal, and that he wasn't forced into a week full of weak singles.
That being said, a few weak singles wouldn't hurt this week, Shaw.
Shaw has a patient approach, part of his own doing, and part because the pitchers of High-A were beaten until they surrendered, and refused to give him anything else to crush. We'll see if the same eventually occurs in Double-A, but regardless, you have to be impressed with Shaw's progress in a short time in the minors.
Aaron Kurcz, RP
Kurcz is doing what he's done all year long: missing bats and occasionally the strike zone. As of late, though, he's been a bit more dominant, posting a 2.08 ERA over his last 10 appearances and 17-1/3 innings, striking out 27 against 10 free passes in that stretch.
Kurcz turned 22 years old yesterday -- too late for this to be anything but his age-21 season -- but he's starting to look like a reliever who is very much ready to take the plunge in Triple-A. That would give the Red Sox yet another potential piece in a future bullpen. Yet another inexpensive, cost-controlled hurler with upside out of the pen to add to what can basically be described as a legion of those guys at this point.