Eric Joseph Brenk
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 188 lb.
Brenk hit .475 as a high school sophomore while posting a 5-1, 2.10 pitching record. He hit .500 as a junior and .414 as a senior, when he had a 6-3, 2.29 record. As a college sophomore, he hit .227, followed by .242 as a junior, when he missed two months with injury. He hit .268 as a senior.
Brenk, whose mother is of German descent, signed with Germany's Bad Homburg Hornets partly into 2014. He hit .395/.465/.474 in 12 games for the team. Getting a German passport, he was on the German national team in the 2014 European Championship. Starting at short, he hit .118/.250/.118 with two runs and one RBI in 7 games but handled 22 chances error-free. In 2015, he moved to the Bonn Capitals and batted .323/.425/.374 with 16 walks and 17 steals (in 18 tries) in 24 games, fielding .976; he was 1-0 with two saves and a 2.53 ERA in eight relief outings. He led the northern Bundesliga-1 in steals, steal percentage and runs (6 ahead of Mike Perrone), was second in fielding at SS (behind Perrone), tied Daniel Sanchez for 5th in hits (32) and tied Sascha Steffens for 8th in walks. In the postseason, he hit .222/.417/.259 with 8 walks in 9 games and had a 7.71 ERA in one outing as Bonn fell in the semifinals.
Eric was back with the German national team for the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in March 2016. He started at short against Nicaragua and went 0 for 3, drawing a walk from Samuel Estrada but then being caught stealing. Nadir Ljatifi got the nod in game 2 instead. In the regular season, he hit .351/.435/.404 with 24 runs in 24 games for Bonn, going 19-for-23 in steals, fielding .952 and having a 2-0, 1.80 record on the hill. He was 10th in average (between Wilson Lee and Jendrick Speer), tied for 7th in RBI (17), tied Collin Forgey for 3rd in hits (33), 3rd in runs (behind Forgey and Sanchez), tied Nils Hartkopf for 5th in walks (14), led in steals (by 8), was second to Jacob Younis in steal percentage and led shortstops in fielding (.949, .025 ahead of Sanchez).
He capped the busy year by playing for Germany in the 2016 European Championship, manning center field as Philip Schulz started at short. He had a 3-hit game versus Russia. Against the Czech Republic, his 9th-inning single off Daniel Mráz drove in Kevin Kotowski with the winner. He drove in five against Belgium and finished at .370/.400/.630 with eight RBI in eight games, homering off Rob Cordemans. While Simon Gühring led Germany in average, Brenk led them in OPS and tied Max Boldt for their most RBI. He tied nine others for fifth in the tourney in RBI.
In 2017, he batted .333/.440/.469 with 29 runs and 12 steals (caught 4 times) in 24 games. He fielded .950 and was 0-1 with a save and a 5.91 ERA. He was 9th in average, 7th in RBI (17), 5th in hits (32), tied Edvardas Matusevičius for 4th in doubles (7), led in runs (3 ahead of Matusevičius), 10th in slugging, 3rd in steals and 2nd in fielding at SS (.005 behind Marco Cardoso).
Brenk remained steady in 2018: .342/.438/.456, 27 R in 28 G, 11 SB in 12 tries, .954; 1-0, 2 Sv, 2.25. He tied Sanchez for third in hits (39), tied for 5th in doubles (8), tied for 4th in runs (with Maik Ehmcke, Caleb Fenimore and Lee), had the third-lowest K rate, tied for 5th in steals, tied for 4th in saves and tied Callum Murphy for second in fielding at short (.002 behind Sanchez). He did not fare as well in the postseason (.238/.333/.262, .909, 2 R in 1/3 IP) but Bonn won its first title.
Representing Germany in the 2018 Haarlem Baseball Week, he hit .318/.375/.364 with five runs in six games, including three in a win over Cuba. He batted .235/.350/.235 with two runs and a RBI in five games in the 2018 Super6 but handled 12 chances error-free and only Ehmckhe had a better average among Germany's qualifiers.
The Californian produced at a .279/.344/.427 in the 2019 regular season in Germany and .286/.327/.327 in the postseason. He allowed two runs (one earned) in 7 2/3 IP. Starting at third for Germany in the 2019 European Championship, he struggled, going 2-for-22 with two walks, three times plunked, two runs and a RBI. He was caught in his only time trying to steal but handled 22 chances error-free and pitched two shutout innings. He had the lowest average of any qualifier while tying for the most times hit by pitch (with Nico Filice, Brett Rosen and Maxime Lefevre).
He was on Germany's team in the 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers before that event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a COVID-shortened season, he hit .366/.634/.534 with 17 runs and 15 walks in 14 games while making no errors then hit .286/.286/.423 in six playoff games. He tied Cardoso and Brendan Dadson for 4th in runs and tied Nick Miceli for 2nd in walks.
Brenk hit .333/.360/.333 for Bonn in the 2021 European Champions Cup with five runs in six games and had a four-hit game when they beat Neptunus to become the first German team to the Cup finale in 11 years. He handled 23 chances error-free in the Cup. He tied Dwayne Kemp and John Polonius for 4th in assists (15). In the Bundesliga season, his batting line was .321/.486/.571 with 23 runs in 14 games, fielding .919 and pitching a scoreless inning. In the playoffs, he was even better - .361/.489/.972, 6 HR, 15 R in 9 G. He tied Joe Wittig for the most RBI in the regular season and was one run behind leader Vincent Ahrens. He tied Lee and Danny Lankhorst for third with six steals. He tied Terrell Joyce and Shawn Larry for the most postseason homers, was second to Larry in runs and second to Joyce in slugging. In the 2021 European Championship, he hit .421/.520/.579 with five runs and eight RBI in six games for a vast improvement from 2019's Euros. He drove in five versus Ukraine and homered off Andrii Boiko. He led Germany in RBI, one ahead of Elias von Garßen. He also pitched once, saving Maurice Wilhelm's win over France despite three hits in 1 2/3 IP, retiring Paolo Brossier on a grounder with two men in scoring position and a 3-2 lead in the 9th to end it. He struck out former minor leaguer José Paula and Daniel Patrice.
In the 2022 European Champions Cup, he hit .263/.375/.368 with five runs in five games, fielding 22 chances without a miscue. He tied Tommaso Battioni for 4th in assists (17). He did not pitch in the '22 Bundesliga, batting .424/.465/.626 with 32 runs and 19 RBI in 22 games then .364/.417/.545 with 15 runs in 12 playoff games. He fielded .931. He was second in runs (one behind Lee), led in hits (9 more than Lee and Matusevičius), tied Lee for the most doubles (9), tied for 4th in homers (3), led in total bases (62, 5 more than Lee), tied for 6th in RBI, was 4th in steals (12), had the best average of those with 50+ AB (.017 ahead of Chris Beyers), was third in slugging for those with 50+ AB and was second to Lee in OPS in the same group. When Bonn won their second title, he was named finals MVP. He also won Bundesliga-1 North MVP. In the 2022 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, he closed out the opening 8-1 loss to Great Britain, getting Jaden Rudd on a grounder. Against South Africa, he pinch-ran for William Germaine. Staying in at third, he singled off Dean Jacobs. In their elimination loss to the Czech Republic, he pinch-hit for Cody Schultz and drew a Michal Kovala walk. Staying in at short, he flew out against Kovala for his lone out of the qualifiers.
- Wofford bio
- 2014 Euros
- Charlotte Observer
- Bundesliga stats
- World Baseball Classic
- 2016 European Championship
- 2018 Haarlem Baseball Week
- 2018 Super6
- 2019 European Championship
- 2021 European Champions Cup
- 2021 European Championship
- 2022 European Champions Cup
- Marco Stoovelaar's Dutch baseball site