He was born in a Honolulu, Hawaii, a luxurious, picturesque island where most people vacation or honeymoon. Out of high school in California he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians as a supplemental first round pick in the 2005 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Six years ago he homered off one of the most dominant right handed pitchers of this era Roger Clemens. This past week he hit three home runs in as many nights all coming in the eighth inning or later that either tied the game or gave the Patriots the lead.
“I’m having so much fun right now,” said Drennen. “The home runs are pretty sweet and I’m just glad to contribute and help the team win.”
Drennen signed with the Cleveland Indians organization for a reported one million dollars as an 18 year-old. He had wealth and was playing the sport he loved since tee-ball.
Less than a calendar year after being drafted, Drennen spanked a home run off of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. Clemens came out of retirement in 2006 to rejoin the Houston Astros and was making starts in the minor leagues to simulate spring training.
“The homer off Roger [Clemens] was awesome,” Drennen said with a smile. “My mom was there which was cool and it was a big confidence boost for me to do it off a pitcher of his caliber.”
Drennen would spend seven years with the Cleveland Indians organization and ultimately was released at the end of last year. He needed a change of scenery and a fresh start. Patriots Director of Player Personnel Brett Jodie and Patriots manager Sparky Lyle gave him a call in the offseason and asked him to wear the red, white, and blue. The coaching staff wanted Drennen to be part of the reclamation project with the Patriots.
“I couldn’t be happier here,” Drennen said referring to Somerset County. “The area and my teammates are great and I’m just trying to do my part to help this team win.”
“Johnny has been everything we expected,” 15th year manager Lyle said. “That’s as clutch as it gets in a three game span, to single handedly win each game with homer that late. We know he’s a great fastball hitter. By hitting him eighth in the lineup, pitchers may lose focus and Johnny will make them pay.”
Lyle is referring to Drennen’s fairy tale 72 hour stretch. On Wednesday he belted a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning against Lancaster to tie the game at 6-6. On Thursday he smacked a solo home run in the top of the tenth inning to give the Patriots a 3-2 lead. On Friday he hit a majestic two-run blast to deep right field to give the Patriots a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.
All three home runs came in victorious fashion as the Patriots have bounced back after starting 1-4 for the fourth straight year.
So what has the secret been to Drennen’s late inning heroics?
“Captain Crunch,” Drennen said laughing referring to his customary pregame meal.