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With the front office waiting for him to prove he can be an everyday outfielder, time might be running out for the Marlins Lewis Brinson.
Lewis Brinson was supposed to the face of the Miami Marlins. A young, athletic outfielder who was living his dream, playing Major League Baseball in his hometown, doing what he loves. It was a Hollywood type of story, being traded to Miami after being in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system.
The Brewers for Christian Yelich in exchange for Brinson, Jordan Yamamoto, Monte Harrison, and Isan Diaz. It’s a good bet all four of the prospects the Marlins acquired will be on the team’s Opening Day roster – if Brinson can turn things around and play baseball at a more consistent, and reliable rate. For the 25-year-old, this is the crossroads season of his early career. With a .183 lifetime batting average as 13 home runs to show for his effort, the doubts and whispers are getting louder.
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Lewis Brinson must turn his career around to remain with this organization. The sand in the hourglass is emptying at a high rate.
“For Brinson, the numbers in 2019 weren’t pretty. In 75 big league games, he had a slash line of .173/.236/.221 with no home runs and 15 RBIs,” writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “He had a minus 1.7 WAR, according to Fangraphs. And that followed up a 2018 campaign, when he hit .199 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs.”
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And with the changes expected this offseason, where the Marlins will go Christmas shopping for a power hitter or two, which could include an outfielder and first baseman, the need for production becomes that much greater. The man who was part of the deal for Yelich, Harrison, could be the teammate who sends him back to the minors or even released or traded this offseason.
“He’s going to have to produce,” manager Don Mattingly said at the end of the 2019 season, per MLB.com. “I think he’s had a lot of opportunity. He’s going to have to produce.”
The Marlins have an abundance of outfielders to choose from and could add Harrison and Jesus Sanchez to their Opening Day roster. That’s a good problem to have, but not when there are many names and faces to evaluate, knowing Brinson is at the lower end of the list of players who are dependable when the team needs a timely hit. It’s not about defense, strictly a problem at the plate.
He was demoted in the first two months of the MLB season in 2019 and was outstanding at Triple-A New Orleans. The last thing Brinson needs is to be known as a player who cannot hit Major League pitching. It’s like a scarlet letter.
“At Triple-A, Brinson was able to work with hitting coach Justin Mashore,” Frisaro explained. “The two have history together — they once were both in the Rangers’ system at the same time.”
And the front office has expressed its desire to see their prospect more forward with his progression.
“When you look at Lewis’ abilities, there’s bat speed, there’s athleticism,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “There’s hand speed, there’s power, there’s foot speed. There’s a lot of things that you like.”
Lewis will be given another opportunity to make an impression in Spring Training. If the green light goes on, he will more than likely win a spot on the roster. If his struggles continue, then the front office has a real decision to make. It’s still early in his career, but Brinson must jump off the charts to prove he can be the player he was once billed to be.
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“When we talk about Lewis, he had all of 2018 to figure things out in the big leagues,” Hill said. “In 2019, he spent time in the Minor Leagues. Consistency is what you search for with him.”