With a compact build, a beard covering his chin and an outfielder’s sunglasses beneath his cap, Brennon Lund of the Salt Lake Bees resembles Kole Calhoun of the parent Los Angeles Angels.
Lund’s 2019 season also has followed Calhoun’s annual trend, in a healthy development. After a poor start of his first Triple-A season, playing at home as a former Bingham High School and BYU star, Lund has become one of the Pacific Coast League’s hottest hitters of the past two months. His .269 batting average for the year remains modest, illustrating how far he had to come after hitting .173, as of late May in his fourth pro season.
The improvement stems from “a little bit of adjustment with my mechanics,” Lund said, “but mostly just working on swinging at better pitches, knowing that I hit better when I'm ahead in the count.”
Bees manager Lou Marson, who also worked with Lund last season at Double-A Mobile, knows Lund has a long way to go in the Angels organization. That's especially true of Lund as a left-handed batter, facing left-handed pitchers. The Angels expect their players to hit effectively against all pitchers, and Lund is batting only .179 against left-handers (and .304 vs right-handers.
Yet Marson likes the way the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Lund is swinging at better pitches going the other way, driving the ball into left-center field. “It's nice to see him break out of his shell, get back to the kind of player he is,” Marson said. “That's the tough thing about this game … everybody says you've got to get confidence, but it's tough when you're struggling, and get off to a bad start.”
Here's how Salt Lake Bees outfielder Brennon Lund's offensive statistics through May 28 compare with his performance since then:
First 43 games: .173 batting average, three home runs, five doubles, 15 RBIs.
Last 38 games: .364 batting average, five home runs, 16 doubles, 31 RBIs.
Lund, 24, followed a somewhat similar pattern at Mobile, where he finished with a .264 average. He hit better in the second half of the Southern League season, although he didn’t start as slowly as this year.
Lund’s early struggles had nothing to do with the pressure of playing professionally in the Salt Lake Valley. He’s comfortable in this hometown environment, saying “Not a lot of people get that experience in pro ball.”
Lund has thrived at Smith's Ballpark, where he's batting .309, compared with .230 on the road. He loves having his parents, former college athletes Kelly and Cathy Lund of South Jordan, being able to watch him play.
He credits his family, teammates, Marson and hitting coach Brian Betancourth for “a combined effort” in helping him overcome his initial, two-month slump. Betancourth has helped Lund develop a shorter, more repeatable swing that enables him to make in-game adjustments at the plate. He has become more consistent “through failure, for sure,” he said. “I've learned more through failure than I ever have through success. That's one thing that I'm sure that a lot of these other guys would say to you.”
Lund has watched a couple of dozen teammates go from the Bees to the Angels and back, trying to apply what they’ve learned in the major leagues in hopes of getting back there. He’s trying to keep improving every year as he progresses through the system, with six weeks left in his first year of Triple-A competition. In pro baseball, he said, “If you’re not getting better, then you’re falling behind.”
Lund’s recovery of the past two months has his career on an upswing again.
ABOUT BRENNON LUND
Hgt/Wgt: 5-9, 185.
High school: Bingham; team won Class 5A state championships in 2011 and ’13.
College: BYU; batted .333 in 159 games over three seasons.
Professional: 2016 — Batted .397 in 18 games with rookie-league Orem and .271 in 45 games with Class-A Burlington after being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 11th round.
2017 — Batted .306 in 46 gams with Burlington, .321 in 46 games with Class-A Inland Empire and .287 in 29 games with Double-A Mobile.
2018 — Batted .264 in 100 games with Mobile.
2019 — Batting .269 in 81 games with Triple-A Salt Lake.