Well, that is some introduction for a former first-round draft pick, drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 2012 draft. His scouting report describes him with one word: exciting. Well, exciting or not his real name is Lewis Brinson, and he plays centre field for the Miami Marlins. He was one of the four players that Marlins received in a trade when they decided to send Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2018. Yelich went on to have an MVP season with the Brewers but little you might know, Brinson has already had two MVP seasons. Unfortunately, those MVP seasons were only awarded jokingly by the Marlins fanbase back in spring training in 2018 and 2019. Last season he didn´t register a single home run in 75 MLB games. Is he a bust?
Brinson came to the Marlins with great hype. He is a Florida native and has been a Miami Marlins/Florida Marlins fan since a little boy growing p in Fort Lauderdale. He was ranked by MLB.com as Marlins number one prospect entering the 2018 season. As for myself, I only had followed the Marlins for a couple of seasons and suddenly they began rebuilding and selling all of their core players. It was like a yard sale. “Everything for a dollar” should have been the sign outside Marlins Park. Giancarlo Stanton, J.T. Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna, all gone. Marlins now had a stacked farm system with prospects. The Miami Prospects. It was about to be a bumpy ride for a new fan.
I wasn’t happy about the Yelich trade, but when the reports said that he requested the trade and wanted out and Brewers were ready to give up so much for him, so of course, I was ready to root for the guys in return. Especially for the guy who was ranked as the number one prospect. All the ingredients for a franchise player were there. He was supposed to be the face of the new franchise. Face for the future.
These are the stats for Lewis Brinson on his career in spring training. This is why he is Mr March.
In 189 at-bats, Lewis Brinson is a career .323 hitter with 12 HRs and 31 RBIs in Spring Training…. pic.twitter.com/wrhmdbI3hM
— Miami Marlins New Age (@miami_age) March 1, 2020
Spring training 2018 was promising. He was hitting the ball quite well, stealin’ bases, runnin’ like a wild man. Sweet Lew was hustlin’! Everything looked solid entering the season. He was batting in the leadoff spot on Opening Day versus the Chicago Cubs. Then weeks went on, and he just didn’t seem to get it going. On 3 July versus Tampa Bay Rays, he was batting in the eighth spot on the lineup card and had a .187 batting average. Shortly after this he had a hip inflammation and was off the field for two months.
Marlins finished the season with a 63-98 record. The former first-rounder finished the season after playing 109 games with a .199/.240/.338 slash line. He had 11 home runs and 42 RBI. Marlins fans were talking about a potential bust even before he had finished his first full season in the majors. Others were saying that he just needed more time. I personally think Marlins made a wrong call starting him straight in the majors. He should have started in Triple-A and given time to adjust. Pressure on him must have been enormous. The franchise had just traded away their core players and fans were expecting something special in return. He needed to succeed. Home town boy coming to the rescue. This whole situation seemed like that Don Mattingly tried to teach him to swim. Instead of doing it like most of the fathers teaching their children to swim in a kids pool, Mattingly just threw poor little Lewis into the deep end and said “Swim.” He sank like a stone.
Reports during the winter in 2019 said that Brinson had been working hard during the offseason and he was ready for a bounce-back season. It came to reality almost from the Opening Day that nothing really seemed to have changed. He was batting down in the order and didn’t have any contact. At the end of April, he was demoted to Triple-A. It was like looking at wounded animal slowly dying. Every passing strikeout and fly out you could see him hanging his head down. Was this the end of Sweet Lew?
He eventually was promoted back to the majors and had a decent run of plays. I think many Marlins fans were rooting for the guy; I know I was. Every time he was batting and made contact with the ball, I prayed to God to give that ball some power and wished that it would go over the fences. That didn’t happen; not a single time during the season.
Marlins biggest offseason acquisition, which hasn’t received much media attention, is the hiring of James Rowson as a bench and hitting coach. Rowson had been working with the Minnesota Twins as a hitting coach. Marlins had a total of 146 home runs last season, and the Twins had 307; this stat makes me cry.
So they clearly went after the best in the business. If Rowson can’t help Brinson, I am not sure there is a single person in the universe that can help him to become a decent ballplayer in the MLB. He is once again having a great spring training and just might win the centre field job for Marlins. If he does that, he needs to start producing.
I think he is a classic example of a player that is really succeeding in the minors but just can’t quite figure it out in the majors. This really shows the gap between majors and minors. I am down on my knees, praying for this guy to succeed. Even if he eventually gets traded, I will root for this guy. He was the first baseball player I started to follow closely. He was the first player with high hopes for this new regime. I want him to be Mr April to October. That last one is a long shot b,ut hey, they have put a man on the moon. I want him to be NL MVP with the Marlins.
Tomi Korkeamaki is covering the Miami Marlins during 2020 as part of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @TKorkeamaki