Greenville has had no shortage of offense from many of their prospects, with one in particular hitting so well that you wonder how much longer he will remain at the Single-A level. We haven’t looked at the Drive for a few weeks, so it’s time for an update on their progress.
Bryce Brentz continues his vendetta against baseballs, hitting .363/.420/.650 in 176 plate appearances. The 2010 first round sandwich pick has 10 homers and 23 extra-base hits all together, and has hit .391/.417/.739 in his last 10 games; about the only negative you can point out is that he has walked in eight percent of his plate appearances, a good but not great rate.
He is making loads of contact, striking out in just 19 percent of his PA–that’s a low figure given the power he has displayed–and it looks like he may have already learned everything there is to learn at the Single-A level.
Given he isn’t super patient right now, Brentz may struggle a bit with the transition to High-A, though, not nearly to the degree he did when he first started up in pro ball. He won’t learn if he isn’t challenged, though, so expect the Sox to move him up when there is room to do so.
Anthony Ranaudo has struggled a bit more as of late, as he has allowed 14 runs in his last 15 1/3 innings, but his overall production for Greenville remains impressive. He still struck out 16 hitters in that stretch, and against seven walks. The problem seemed to be that Ranaudo wasn’t scattering his hits and walks, but that happens to even the best pitchers sometimes.
The right-handed Ranaudo has been death to lefties in his early pro career, holding them to a 2.16 ERA and striking out 18 of them in 16 2/3 innings against them, but right-handers have been more problematic. He has walked 10 of them in 18 1/3 innings, and allowed 11 of his 15 earned runs while facing them. He is just 20 years old, so there is no rush to push him through the system–the Sox will let him figure out consistency at his own pace, as per usual with their young and promising pitching prospects.
Brandon Jacobs was a 10th round pick in the 2009 draft paid a bonus of $750,000 to sign, and heading in to this year, he had been somewhat of a disappointment. Jacobs hit just .250/.333/.333 in his very short stint in the Gulf Coast League, then followed that up with a .242/.308/.411 showing at Low-A Lowell in 2010.
He may have broken out to start 2011, though, as the 20-year-old outfielder is at .350/.410/.550 in his first 134 plate appearances for Greenville. Jacobs also has seven steals (against three caught stealings) to go with his 15 extra-base hits.
Not everything is great, though: Jacobs is striking out 28 percent of the time, a number that doesn’t bode well for future production given his current inflated batting average. That is also a loftier strikeout rate than the one he posted last year while struggling at Lowell by about six percentage points.
If he can work on cutting down the strikeouts and keep this power surge going, Jacobs will have played himself right back into the prospect discussion that got him the big bonus in the first place. Kevin Goldstein didn’t have him in his top 20 for the organization heading into the year–even guys like Luis Exposito and Che-Hsuan Lin, future bench players, were ahead of him–so he could certainly use the good press.
First baseman Miles Head was a teammate of Jacobs’ last year at Lowell, and he hit just about as well. In his age-19 season, Head hit all of .240/.328/.341 with just one homer for the Spinners. Interestingly enough, though, Head didn’t struggle with plate discipline or strike zone recognition at all–he whiffed just 36 times in 272 plate appearances, and drew a walk 30 times. The problems had more to do with the ball just continually ending up in a glove and not over the fence or in the gaps.
He is having no such trouble at Single-A, where he is hitting .322/.394/.603 for a 997 OPS in his first 165 plate appearances. He is striking out more often, but at just 17 percent of the time, it’s also not at a rate that will hurt him, and he is drawing walks 10 percent of the time, too.
Head was named the top hitter in the Red Sox Fall Instructional League, and that success seems to have carried over into the new year. He has nine homers and 14 doubles already, and is just 20 years old. While he has a tendency to chase pitches on occasion, you can see that it hasn’t shown up in those strikeout rates yet. He has also been a better defensive player at first than he was at third, so he is turning himself into a minor leaguer worth paying attention to.