Red Sox take another slugger in Brentz

Red Sox take another slugger in Brentz

CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox don't have to wonder what kind of fit Bryce Brentz's big right-handed bat would be for the cozy dimensions of Fenway Park. They already saw it during a recent workout, which is just one of the reasons they had no hesitation whatsoever snagging him with the 36th overall pick in Monday night's First-Year Player Draft.

The heavy-hitting outfielder from Middle Tennessee State is close to signing a contract and will soon start his ascension through Boston's farm system. And if all goes well, he will one day make it back to Fenway and try to prove his worth against Major League pitching.

Draft Central

"He was arguably a Top 10 pick coming into this year," said Red Sox director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye. "He's a guy that has light tower, plus raw power. We brought him to Fenway before the Draft and he was wearing out Lansdowne Street. He's someone we're really excited about. He's someone we feel, if all falls well for us, can be a corner outfield bat and another middle-of-the-order of the bat."

In Round 1, with the 20th pick, the Sox drafted third baseman Kolbrin Vitek, who has similar middle-of-the-order potential.

Brentz, 21, probably would not have fallen to the Red Sox if he had fared as well this year as in his sophomore season of a year ago, when he led the NCAA in batting average (.465), homers (28), slugging percentage (.930) and total bases (214).

But his junior year wasn't all that bad either, as Brentz hit .348 with 51 runs, eight doubles, 15 homers and 49 RBIs. A high ankle sprain plagued him for part of the year and could have played a role in his numbers dipping a bit.

The Red Sox were convinced that he finished the year healthy.

"He had a high ankle sprain and it cost him some time at Middle Tennessee State," said Sawdaye. "He came back and we talked to him about it. He said it didn't affect his approach, it didn't affect what he's done this year. Obviously a lot of hitting is timing, and we just think he just needed to get some more at-bats and some more consistent at-bats to get back into the swing of things."

The Red Sox were able to draft Brentz as compensation for losing free-agent slugger Jason Bay to the New York Mets.

It was not a pick Boston's decision-makers had to think long and hard about. They had predetermined that if Brentz was still there at 36, they would pounce.

"He's a very good athlete who could also play center field and also projects to be an above-average right fielder as well," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "Obviously we buy into his right-handed power."

With their final pick on Day 1 of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, the Red Sox selected Louisiana State University right-hander Anthony Ranaudo with the 39th overall pick.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.