Looking at his numbers from the first month of the season, you'd have no idea how much Bryce Brentz struggled in his first year of pro ball.
The 22-year-old right fielder went 3-for-6 with his seventh homer of the year Monday, missing the cycle by a triple, to extend his hitting streak to 21 straight games as Class A Greenville Drive beat the Asheville Tourists, 10-5.
The former first-rounder has reached base in each of the Drive's 30 contests. Both streaks are the longest of their kind in the Minors this season.
"I have been reminded of the hit streak by some of the other players and coaches, but I figure that if there was a jinx it would have happened by now," Brentz said.
"My hitting coach Luis Lopez keeps telling me to stay in control and use the whole field, and he's been keeping me pretty relaxed and pretty calm."
Brentz struck out in his first two at-bats of the afternoon, but he ripped a one-out double to right field in the fifth inning and legged out an infield single in the sixth that plated the tying run.
After narrowly missing a homer on a deep fly ball in the seventh, the outfielder blasted a two-run shot in the top of the ninth.
"They got me on changeups and offspeed stuff in my first two at-bats tonight, so the third time I went up there I wanted to let the ball get deep and then react," Brentz said.
"I just missed a homer in my fifth at-bat, but I got a 1-0 fastball in the ninth inning, trusted my hands to do the work and I hit it out."
So far, the new approach at the plate appears to be working just fine. After hitting .442 (15-for-34) with five multi-hit outings in his first eight games of the season, Brentz went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts and a walk on the against the Savannah Sand Gnats on April 16.
Since then, however, the Red Sox prospect hasn't had another hitless day at the plate. Selected 36th overall in the 2010 Draft, Brentz is hitting .345 (29-for-84) over his current 21-game hit streak.
"I've learned to be selectively aggressive, that is the key," said Brentz, who hit just .198 with five homers and 28 runs in 69 games with short-season Lowell last season.
"Last year I was trying to do too much and that was when I got into trouble. I was pressing too much and I missed a lot of balls trying to hit them 500 feet. Now I'm trying to stay calm and learn from every at-bat."
The Middle Tennessee State University product stands among the South Atlantic League leaders in virtually every offensive category.
He leads the league with 44 hits and 30 runs and his 78 total bases are second only to Lexington's Chris Wallace (80). His seven homers are tied for the third and his 25 RBIs put him behind Wallace and Delmarva's Kipp Schutz. His .629 slugging percentage is good for fifth and his .355 clip ranks ninth.