SDI Prospect Rankings – #3 Lewis Brinson

07 September 2015: Express outfielder Lewis Brinson during 7 - 4 win over the Iowa Cubs at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, TX.

Next up in our prospect rankings is the lanky Lewis Brinson. From my up close and personal view, Brinson is closer to 6′-6″ 180 lbs. than his listed 6′-3″ 170 lbs. The 21-year-old center fielder is the epitome of the Rangers favorite draft choices: toolsy athletes with lots of potential and questionable hit tools.

Texas drafted Brinson 29th overall in the 2012 draft ahead of supplemental pick Joey Gallo. Brinson was a part of that record breaking homer and whiff team in 2013; that year Brinson struck out 191 times and homered 21 times. He was also a part of the 20-20 club that year stealing 24 bases. However Brinson only hit .237 in additional to those staggering 191 strikeouts.

Brinson’s speed, power, and defensive prowess have never been in question, however his hit tool has. At the time of the draft, a few sites slapped a 20 on his hit tool, the equivalent of 2010 Benji Molina speed. The thought was always “if we can get this guy to hit he could be a monster.”

It took two years, when Brinson was repeating Hickory, to show off that hit tool. That year he slashed .335/.405/.579 in 43 SAL games and that earned him a promotion to high A for the second half of 2014 and the playoffs.

During the last two years the biggest red flag on Lewis wasn’t his hit tool but his hamstring. In each of the past two seasons Brinson has missed significant time due to hamstring injuries. Hopefully those can be fixed and never heard from again.

Last year was the year of Brinson on the Rangers prospect scene after 2013 was clearly the year of Joey Gallo. Brinson made significant improvements to the hit tool. His strikeout rate was down to a respectable 21% and he bumped up his walk rate to 9.7%. Brinson did all of this across three different levels, finishing 2015 in Round Rock. Some of the improvements in his swing can be attributed to the position of his hands pre-swing from spring training to the end of the year. The first video is of Lew in spring training and the next is of him in September.

Notice how in the first video Lewis keeps his hands high pre-swing and when he starts his load. This forces the bat to travel further to get through the zone to the point of contact, decreasing his bat speed and ability to catch up with heat. In the second video Brinson keeps his hands high pre-swing but once he is about to start his load, brings his hands down so that the bat doesn’t have to travel as far and he can get the bat more quickly through the zone. This is an essential tool of successful hitters.

The floor for Brinson has always been high because of his exceptional speed and ability to read the ball off the bat in center field. Brinson’s arm strength is also exceptional. He has excellent power as well, but the hit tool limited it from playing up to potential in game. With the hit tool improvements Brinson made last year, he has begun to morph into the beast Texas drafted him to be.

Normally I don’t like putting grades out on players since I’m not even close to a scout, but I’ve seen to many inaccurate ones thrown out by people less qualified than me so I’m going to do it anyway. His lowest tool is still his hit tool, but his 50 hit tool will play well. Anything much higher and he’d approach Buxtonian or Troutian levels of dominance. Lewis Brinson’s raw power – I’d put a 65 on it. If you want to challenge me, watch this homer and then shut your mouth.

The whole SDI crew was there that night so they could tell you what I sounded like when he hit that. I couldn’t tell you what noise I made when I saw it but I can tell you that it probably made several folks uncomfortable (Editors Note: he cried). Lew’s speed and glove both rank as 70s and his cannon arm is a 65 or 70. But take all this with a grain of salt because I am not a scout.

Bottom line on Lew is that he’s taken that next step and is ready to be the Rangers center fielder of the future. He’s got all the physical and mental tools to improve this team for years to come. Brinson was extended an invite to big league camp this year, so there’s an outside chance that he makes the team out of spring training. It might be more likely for Brinson to start the season in Round Rock and then force the issue by June.

Lewis Brinson is the real deal. He’s knocking on the door of Arlington and sometime in the next few months Jon Daniels is going to have to let him in. Brinson will have an impact on the Rangers this year, that’s for sure. Once Brinson gets his chance in the bigs the world should look out because Lanky Lew is comin’ for you!

Brice Paterik
Brice is a Junior Journalism major at Texas Tech University in pursuit of a career in Sports Journalism. Growing up in Dallas his whole life, Brice has been a Rangers fan since before he batted against a machine. He's a sucker for a high ceiling athletic prospect without a hit tool or 20 year olds who throw 100 mph and can't hit the zone. He over values every prospect and is a hopeless romantic for baseball. She's broken his heart a million times but he will always come back for more.

One comment

  • The thing working against Lewis Brinson is the fact he is not on the 40 man roster. Mazara and obviously Gallo are. Adding Brinson will make them possibly lose a player AND start Brinson’s clock. I hope you are right, but I don’t see him getting to the MLB this year barring lots of injuries.

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