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Attitude, effort already has Holt in elite company

Attitude, effort already has Holt in elite company

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Attitude, effort already has Holt in elite company

BOSTON -- Brock Holt knows he doesn't have much power.

"I'm not a guy who is going to go out there and hit 30 homers," he said. "Or shoot, hit 10 homers."

Other tools?

"I mean, he has some speed," Mike Napoli said.

Defense?

"This is a guy that has some athleticism and can play multiple positions," manager John Farrell said.

It's not a bad scouting report. Holt isn't turning heads in any of the major categories, but he's holding his own in a few.

Change the subject from home runs to hustle, though, and suddenly eyes widen.

"He plays hard," Napoli said. "I knew that watching him with Pittsburgh. And during Spring Training."

"A competitive player," Farrell said.

"He's a hard-worker," said Brandon Snyder, who became good friends with Holt during their time together in Triple-A Pawtucket this season. "He's the guy who leaves it all on the field, and that includes his emotions. It's awesome to play with somebody like that."

But hard work doesn't guarantee production. And for one of the Red Sox's newest members, a ticket to Pawtucket could arrive at any moment. Still, watching Holt play -- diving into the stands, sprinting to first base on routine grounders, working the count, dirtying the uniform -- it all looks similar to someone the Red Sox have seen before.

The Minor League numbers are actually close enough to mix up. And then there's the height.

Just like Dustin Pedroia, Holt is 5-foot-8.

"I just have to play my game and not try to be bigger than I am," Holt said. "Running around, trying to make plays, getting on base any way I can.

"I'm the underdog. I've been that way my whole life."

Pedroia's numbers in Triple-A: .289 average, .374 OBP, .783 OPS.

Holt's numbers in Triple-A: .315 average, .377 OBP, .748 OPS.

Neither showed much power, but they didn't strike out much either.

Some players take longer to mature. Others just take longer to get noticed.

Pedroia left Arizona State at age 20 in 2004, when the Red Sox selected him in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft. Holt arrived at Rice at the same age, after spending two years at Navarro College, a two-year school in Corsicana, Texas, that currently enrolls about 9,000 students.

It was the only offer Holt had out of Stephenville (Texas) High School.

"I went to Navarro and I said, 'I'll just keep playing and someone will notice at some point,'" Holt said.

Rice University noticed, brought Holt in, and watched him hit .348 before the Pirates drafted him in the ninth round in 2009.

He thought he'd be with the Pirates for a long time until last year, when he got a phone call the day after Christmas and told he was included in a trade that sent Joel Hanrahan to Boston.

"At first I was like, 'Damn, I was doing well with Pittsburgh,'" Holt said. "It's the team I was drafted by. So I was like, 'I don't know why they're getting rid of me.'

"But after I talked to [Red Sox general manager] Ben Cherington and John Farrell and [assistant GM] Mike Hazen about how they want me to be part of the deal, they wanted me over here, it made me feel a lot better about this situation."

Holt, a natural second baseman, knew he had no chance of playing his favorite position. That was Pedroia's spot.

But he played second to start this season at Triple-A Pawtucket. Then Jose Iglesias got called up to the Majors, and Holt moved to shortstop. Then Xander Bogaerts was promoted to Triple-A, and Holt moved to third. Then Will Middlebrooks was sent down to Triple-A, and Holt was again on the move.

"It's a whirlwind," Holt said. "Everyone wants to be an everyday player. But it's about getting an opportunity where you can, whether that's going to be a bench guy; utility guy; playing short, third, second or third, whatever. I'll play wherever."

In nine games since being promoted to Boston, Holt has walked more times (three) than he's struck out (two), hit .300 (9-for-30) and driven in eight runs, including six that came in a trio of games that the Red Sox won by a total of six runs.

"And defensively at third, he's probably surpassed [our expectations]," Farrell said.

Holt's time with the Red Sox could be limited. Shortstop Stephen Drew is set to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday, which should push Iglesias back to third and leave the final infield spot between Holt and Brandon Snyder.

But it's hard to escape the feeling that Holt has the chance to be special, if not now, then someday. Not with over-powering strength or speed, but with a certain attitude and drive that pushes him to work harder than anyone else.

Snyder believes it.

He looks up to someone with a similar attitude.

"That guy," Snyder says, pointing to Pedroia. "At this level, most guys are really good at what they do. It's just about how they go about doing it. Pedey is one of those guys you watch prepare himself every day, the hard work he puts in every day, and it's really impressive."

The descriptions are almost identical. Now only if the rest of Holt's story is, as well.

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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