clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Red Sox prospects daily: Bryce Brentz and Sean Coyle try to homer their way to majors

Bryce Brentz and Sean Coyle are showing off their power, but are they going to be Red Sox?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Triple-A Pawtucket: Bryce Brentz, LF

Bryce Brentz is probably not a major-league regular. His arm is a strength, but his range is shaky and he's limited to left field if you want to limit the potential damage. He's also likely a platoon bat better suited to crushing lefties than racking up 600 plate appearances against pitchers from both sides of the mound. These aren't harsh criticisms, though, or an attempt to diminish what Brentz has done at Triple-A: He has a big-league future, and can be a useful player for someone, be it the Red Sox or a different team with some outfield space, and that has value. He just might not be a starter, and contextualizing the reasons why is important.

It should be noted, though, that Brentz has rectified one major flaw in his game from his youth, and that is his discipline. Brentz always had the power, but he was prone to striking out, and hit for a low average in part because of his tendency to go after what the pitcher was giving him instead of waiting for the right offering to smash. In 2014, he still hit for a low average at .241, but his on-base percentage was .341, and he struck out 21 percent of the time. So far, it appears those improvements have carried over to 2015, where he is batting .310/.388/.571 with three homers in his first 10 games and 49 plate appearances.

Brentz is 26, and yes, he's in his fourth season at Triple-A. Injuries and the timing of his promotion there have limited him to just 160 games and 683 plate appearances at the level, though, so while it feels like he's been at Pawtucket forever, he's had just a little more than one year's worth of playing time. It's not implausible that he figured things out over the second half of those games, and that he's now big-league ready or close to it.

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

He's probably not a late bloomer like Josh Reddick, who always had the expectation of being a major-league starter so long as he figured out how to hold off on swinging at every single pitch thrown to him, especially with his excellent defense. Brentz could have value as a bench bat on a good team, one who has an arm that could keep baserunners honest in left or right, or maybe a rebuilding club could give him some full-time major-league at-bats and see how he holds up against righties.

The power is just tantalizing enough that he's absolutely worth the risk for a team with the ability to absorb it. If he's "only" a Jonny Gomes type and not a breakout-in-waiting, well, that kind of platoon bat can costs millions on the free agent market, so it would still be a win. Right now, Brentz is buried on the Boston depth charts behind Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr., and while he still has options left, it might be worth cashing in this trade chip sometime soon.

Triple-A Pawtucket: Sean Coyle, 2B

Brentz isn't the only Triple-A hitter hitting bombs, as Sean Coyle has three homers as well. The difference is that Brentz looks like a guy who should regularly put balls into the seats, while Coyle is generously listed at 5-foot-8. He's just 23 years old, though, and has shown in his minor-league career that if he's healthy, he's hitting.

Coyle batted .295/.371/.512 in his one season at Double-A Portland, a summer shortened by injuries that held him to just 97 games and 384 plate appearances. Strikeouts remain a concern, as he whiffed 25 percent of the time while otherwise succeeding at the plate, thanks in large part to a .362 batting average on balls in play. Coyle isn't going to be a high-average hitter, but the power is legitimate, and he has the patience to offset the lack of contact with walks here and there, too. With that being said, Coyle does chase on the outside part of the plate, and that's what will get him to swing-and-miss constantly against MLB pitching, so even that will be negated to a point.

A whole lot of scouts and teams are going to see Coyle's size and write him off unless he obliterates Triple-A pitchers

Coyle is probably not a player who starts on a great team, but he's still young enough to make some adjustments and change that. The problem is that a whole lot of scouts and teams are going to see his size and write him off unless he obliterates Triple-A pitchers, so it's unclear just what the Sox could get for him in a trade from a team willing to gamble that he's more than meets the eye. If you think otherwise, remember that the Phillies didn't want to give up the last year of a reliever for him, likely thinking there would eventually be a better deal. Laugh at the Phils if you want, but they won't be alone in this point of view.

It might also feel weird to say the Sox are going to trade a guy who slugged .512 at Double-A as a 22-year-old, but please remember they already moved Mookie Betts to the outfield because of Dustin Pedroia, and now have Pablo Sandoval at third, the only other place where Coyle might have been able to play. There just isn't room for him, but that's not a negative: there is no such thing as too many prospects, because some of them make your team better by playing for you, and some of them improve it by playing for someone else.

High-A Salem: Daniel McGrath, LHP

There isn't a whole lot to say about Daniel McGrath just yet, other than that his introduction to Salem has been unfortunate. McGrath lasted just 3-1/3 innings in his one start thus far, surrendering three runs while walking five batters. He also struck out three batters, but we're guessing that's not much consolation for the rest.

On the plus side, McGrath is just 20 years old, and High-A as bump in the road wouldn't be surprising given he posted a 4.09 ERA with a 1.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Low-A last year. The Australian southpaw still has something of an unknown future, as he's so young and raw that it's unclear if he's going to be a starter of some kind, of if relief is his most likely path to the majors. Additional time against Carolina League hitters should shed some light on things, but again, 20 is too young for either an abundance of pessimism or optimism with someone like this.

Low-A Greenville: Michael Kopech, RHP

Kopech has made two starts for Greenville, and while he's younger than McGrath, he's also not a prospect on the bubble. The first-round pick for the Sox from last summer's draft has better than mid-rotation potential, and while he's years from realizing it, his is a far less nebulous future than other pitchers in the system in his age group.

That'll happen when multiple pitches in your arsenal have plus potential, though, and the fastball projects to be possibly even better than that. With all of this being said, there will also be struggles on his road to the majors. Sox Prospects mentions that he gets visibly frustrated on occasion and it takes away from his work on the mound, and while that's something that can be worked through, it could result in an ugly start here and there until then. So far, so good, though, with Kopech striking out eight in his first 8-2/3 innings of full-season ball, against a pair of walks and three runs.