Potential is there for Lewis Brinson and patience should follow

Miami Marlins rookie center fielder Lewis Brinson had a key sacrifice fly on Friday to help his team defeat the San Diego Padres 4-0. He was given Saturday off but appeared as a pinch hitter and reached base on an error in the ninth inning in a 5-4 loss. He had a couple fly outs on Sunday that were a few feet away from becoming home runs.

As part of a plan to further develop Brinson, the Marlins are giving him one day off per series as a way for him to work on cleaning up his swing and refining his approach.

“The day off is a day to be able to work, work, work without having the negativity of the game or the battle of the game where you’re just going to try to compete,” Mattingly said. “In those scenarios, a lot better chance of just going back to reacting and just going back to your old self and trying to survive.”

Brinson was the centerpiece of the deal that sent outfielder Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers. He has been a consensus top-30 prospect in baseball over the last three years and was also the centerpiece in a trade that brought catcher Jonathan Lucroy from Milwaukee to the Texas Rangers in 2016. The potential is still there even if the patience isn’t.

Despite hitting .163, Brinson is second among Marlins hitters in home runs with nine. That puts him on pace for 20 home runs, which combined with his defensive prowess makes him appear to be the next Jackie Bradley Jr. While the power might be a promising direction for Brinson, Mattingly emphasized the overall development.

“I think we need him to be a hitter first,” Mattingly said. “The power is going to be there. The better his swing gets, the better he gets an understanding of the strike zone, having an approach out there, the homers are going to be there as a byproduct.

“Think about that,” Mattingly said about the home runs. “That’s a moment here and a moment there over 200 at-bats. So we’re gonna need more consistency if we’re going to win.”

The Dan Le Batard Show, a popular ESPN Radio show based in Miami Beach, has started a campaign for Brinson to get voted into the MLB All-Star Game as a starting outfielder. While the bat might be cold for Brinson, the glove is hot, as he currently leads all major-league center fielders by committing five errors.

“He already is a great defender,” Mattingly said. “Our thing is developing the complete player. Stolen bases will be there for him. Home runs will be there for him. Extra base hits will be there for him. All that stuff’s there when you develop the whole player.”


About: Tony Capobianco


Sports Kave senior writer

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