LOWELL — It takes place on baseball fields every day, across America. So, what were the odds that a simple game of pickup football this spring would derail star college baseball prospect Bryce Brentz's season, with a million-dollar draft day in sight.
"We were fooling around pregame," admitted Brentz. "I think everyone's been hurt messing around. But it came at a pretty bad time."
Despite his freak ankle injury, the Red Sox chose the slugger, ranked the No. 10 amateur prospect in the draft by espn.com, as a sandwich selection in the first round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.
Signing just days after the draft, Brentz was the starting right fielder and cleanup hitter last night for the Lowell Spinners, who fell to the Tri-City VallyCats 5-0 on opening night at LeLacheur Park, despite allowing just four hits. Lowell had opened the season last Friday in Vermont.
"I've been waiting for this," said Brentz, who was 0 for 2 with two walks last night. "The biggest thing I've been waiting for is to get out and start my professional career."
Expectations were sky high for Brentz heading into the 2010 college season.
As a sophomore for Middle Tennessee State in 2009, Brentz delivered an eye-popping campaign. He led NCAA Division 1 with a .465 batting average, 28 home runs and a .930 slugging percentage. He added 73 RBIs and was named a Louisville Slugger and Baseball America first-team All-American.
"I knew I wasn't going to top what I did in my sophomore season," said Brentz. "Everyone has a career year, and that was mine. I just told myself not to press and look past the pressure."
Not eligible for the draft until after his junior season, Brentz returned to Middle Tennessee for his junior campaign. But, prior to a game, disaster struck.