Continuing our look at the Mets’ options with the seventh overall pick in June’s amateur draft, today we’ll take a look at MTSU outfielder Bryce Brentz, who was looking like an easy top-ten pick before the season began.
School: Middle Tennessee State
Weight: 185 lbs.
Position: Outfield, Pitcher
What He Brings
Take a look at that sophomore campaign. Yeah, take a look at it again. That’s one hell of a batting line—anytime you slug .930, you’re doing something right. Brentz has some put up some great power numbers in the Sun Belt, and those numbers made him a likely top ten pick heading into the college season. While it’s quite possible that Brentz slips out of the top ten due to an ankle injury that limited him this season, he’s still a college bat with a track record of success in a draft devoid of those. In other words, don’t expect him to fall much further, if at all.
Brentz usually has a pretty uncomplicated swing with a slight uppercut to it that should produce plenty of loft. Fantastic bat speed adds to his raw power, which might not be as fantastic as that of Bryce Harper, Michael Choice, or Josh Sale but is still quite formidible. When he swings, he doesn’t take much of a stride, but he does have a clear weight transfer, so I don’t think the power is going to be something that disappears with the transition to professional baseball.
In the field, he’s mostly played center field, but moved to right this season in light of his injury. That’s really where he belongs, and he’ll be able to use his athleticism to its optimal effect. His arm is a plus; he was drafted by the Indians out of high school as a pitcher, and he pitched in MTSU’s rotation last season, being clocked as high as 92. However, he knows his future lies in the outfield. Finally, scouts have been impressed with his intelligence and work ethic.
What He Doesn’t Bring
There are some things which do lower his ceiling some. First, he’s never been a huge walker despite playing against sup-prime competition and putting up some extraordinary seasons. And he has had a tendency to strike out a bit much from time-to-time. Neither problem is especially exaggerated, but they should concern slightly. He’ll also sometimes deepen his load too much, which will help his power, but it also lengthens his swing and bars his front arm, which will prevent him from making adjustments mid-swing. This paints him as more of an all-or-nothing slugger.
And for a slugger, there are questions as to how much power he’ll actually provide. He should have his share—that’s certain. But he’s not a huge guy, he doesn’t have long limbs to create leverage, and he does rotate his hips a touch too early. If he corrects that, as I think he will, he might find more power. But I’m just not certain he’s strong enough to be a 40 home run guy at any point.
Finally, like I said, I expect him to stay in right field. It would be nice if he could return to center, but he’s not fast enough to cover the area, though he’s not slow.
When we covered Covey on Friday, I compared him to Karsten Whitson. Brentz is going to naturally draw comparisons to Michael Choice (whose profile will probably be up Wednesday) and Josh Sale as more polished power-hitting outfielders who will go in the top half of the first round. Make no mistake: I don’t think Brentz has the upside of either player, but he’s a safer bet than both. Sale’s got his own swing issues and is a high school hitter besides, while Choice doesn’t have Brentz’s track record of success. Of the three, I currently have them ranked Sale-Choice-Brentz, but Brentz will have more value to certain organizations, especially those looking for a fast mover.
As for a comparison, I guess I’d compare Brentz to Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe. Brentz might have a touch more power and should be a better defender, but he probably won’t have Hawpe’s patience at the plate, either. That said, Hawpe’s been a very useful player for the Rockies, and when you draft Brentz, you probably won’t have to worry about signability or a longer holdout. Secondary concerns for a responsible organization (note what I did there), for sure, but I really don’t have a problem with a team taking signability into account when distinguishing between close players.