Welcome to professional baseball, Bryce Brentz. A slugging 21-year-old outfielder out of Middle Tennessee State University, Brentz was selected by Boston with the 36th-overall pick in this month’s draft and is beginning his career tonight with short-season Lowell. Brentz talked about the scouting and signing process, and his expectations of pro ball, during Spinners media day on Thursday.
David Laurila: What do you know about professional baseball?
Bryce Brentz: I’m fortunate enough to have some friends playing pro ball and telling me stories, and they always say, “It’s a grind; it’s a grind.” You don’t understand until you look at the schedule and see that you play 70 games and only have three days off. I know that it’s going to be a grind, but I’m looking forward to it.
DL: Who are some of the friends?
BB: One is a good teammate from MTSU named Rawley Bishop, who played for the Oneonta Tigers last year. I would talk to him almost every other day and he would tell me about it; he would tell me what to expect — things like what the ballparks are like. Some of the guys from MTSU who are in pro ball come back and work out during the off-season, and we’d talk and hit, and they’d tell stories. So far, everything has turned out like they said. At MTSU, it was kind of like minor-league ball in that we drove everywhere, and coach Pete [Steve Peterson] did a pretty good job of preparing us, so I’m comfortable with it.
DL: What have you been doing to get ready?
BB: Ever since the season ended, I’ve been lifting, long tossing, hitting, and just getting ready. I came here in the best shape that I could given the short amount of time that I had, and ever since I signed I’ve been eager to play. I’ve been eager to be out here, so I’m glad that I can just focus on playing now.
DL: What was draft day like for you?
BB: I was kind of nervous, but once it got started there was nothing else I could do except sit around and wait, and that’s what I did until my agent text messaged to say that Boston was probably going to take me. They did, and I couldn’t have been happier to become a part of this organization. The fans are just amazing and I’m proud to be here.
DL: When does an agent come into play in the draft process?
BB: Well, now he does. In the NCAA, you have to say that he’s an advisor — that’s the rule. But now that I’m in pro ball, you need one. They get you gear — bats and stuff like that — so basically they work for you; you don’t work for them. You want to find one that you’re comfortable with and can trust.
DL: You presumably got a call prior to being announced as the Red Sox pick. Did that come from your agent/advisor or from the area scout?
BB: It came from my agent. He asked me, “Hey, if they give you this amount, will you sign?” I said, “Yes, sir; let‘s get it done.”
DL: What about after the pick was announced?
BB: [Red Sox area scout] Danny [Watkins] called me and said, “Hey buddy, I’m glad we got you.” I said, “Yeah, me too.” He was like, “Okay, I’ll get the paperwork run up and it will be there in a couple of days, and we can get this thing signed, sealed and delivered.” I said, “Yes sir, I’m looking forward to it.”
DL: Watkins was one of many scouts you talked to prior to the draft. Did they have a similar approach, or did they differ?
BB: They were all pretty much the same. A few of them were a little more headstrong, but come draft day, Boston ended up taking me, and whichever teams takes you is the one that loved you the best. Danny did a really good job. He never promised me anything; he never said anything to get my hopes up. He just told me the truth and told me straight up, and I appreciate that.
DL: Most draftees say that they didn’t care which team took them. Are they being truthful?
BB: I think they’re being honest, especially when you get out of your higher rounds and into the teens, the twenties, the thirties, and whatever. A lot of kids, especially seniors, they’ll say, “Hey, just give me a chance; I’ll sign for a bus ticket.” They want to keep playing and it’s not because they want all the money; they know that when you go later you don’t get as much, they just want to play. They love the game and don’t want to call it a career already, and that’s the same with me. I was fortunate enough to be drafted in the first round, as a sandwich pick, but I was just happy. I didn’t care which team it was, I just wanted somebody to call my name.
DL: You agreed to the parameters of a contract on draft day, but when did you formally sign?
BB: I didn’t sign the actual contract until yesterday [June 16], so I’ve only got one practice in. They brought the contract in from Boston and we signed it here [Lowell]. You have to do that so you’re able to practice, and I had to wait for my drug test to get in. I passed all that and I passed my physical, and then I had to wait for my contract. Once it came, I signed it and we were out playing.
DL: In a nutshell, you got drafted, took a physical and a drug test, and then you signed?
BB: When you get drafted, you sign a formality contract, which is non-binding. It notifies you that you have been drafted, by the Red Sox, and after that…I took a steroid test earlier, for MLB, prior to the draft, and then when I got drafted by Boston I took a drug test for them. When I came up here, I took a physical.
DL: Has the reality that you’re a professional baseball player set in, or are you still in a bit of a haze?
BB: It’s set in a little bit. I’m still thinking, “Hey, I get to go out there and play the game that I love and they’re going to pay me.” It hasn’t entirely set in, but it’s getting there. It’s a business now. It’s my job and I plan to do the best that I can.