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Brinson: 'I've got to perform' in 2020

@JoeFrisaro
November 26, 2019

MIAMI -- Lewis Brinson knows where he stands. The athletic 25-year-old outfielder is fully aware he is running out of chances with the Marlins, and 2020 is time for him to step up and prove he can be a productive Major Leaguer. After a second straight disappointing season, the Marlins

MIAMI -- Lewis Brinson knows where he stands.

The athletic 25-year-old outfielder is fully aware he is running out of chances with the Marlins, and 2020 is time for him to step up and prove he can be a productive Major Leaguer.

After a second straight disappointing season, the Marlins have made it clear Brinson needs to show improvement. It simply wasn’t there in 2019, when his slash line was a mere .173/.236/.221 with no home runs and 15 RBIs in 75 games.

“I’ve got to perform,” Brinson said. “That’s the name of the game up here. I’ve got to contribute to the team more. To be on this team, and where we’re going, and where everything is going for us, so far, I’ve got to contribute.”

If Brinson isn’t performing, the Marlins have internal options. Jon Berti can play center field, and prospects like Jesus Sanchez and Monte Harrison are closer to being big league ready.

Miami also is exploring free agents and trade opportunities for the outfield.

Brinson spoke on Monday with media at Marlins Park at the 10th annual Miami Marlins Home Plate Meals Thanksgiving Distribution, sponsored by Tito’s Homemade Vodka.

For Brinson, Spring Training isn’t necessarily a make-or-break situation, because he has an option for 2020. So if he doesn’t appear ready at any point during the spring or regular season, being sent to the Minor Leagues is an alternative. But this is his final option season.

“There's still a belief that he's going to be a very productive Major League player,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said earlier in the offseason.

Now Brinson has to show it. In two seasons with the Marlins, he has a combined slash line of .189/.238/.294 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in 184 games.

“It's just up to him to put it all together,” Hill said. “What we've all been working on with him is becoming more of a consistent player, and taking care of the swing mechanics so that all of that ability can show up on the field every day.”

To put himself in a position to succeed next year, Brinson is spending the offseason training in Miami and up at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla., with second baseman Isan Díaz, shortstop Miguel Rojas and assistant hitting coach Eric Duncan.

In the weight room, Brinson is focusing heavily on strengthening his legs.

In the batting cages, he’s working mainly off a tee, concentrating on hitting the ball up the middle.

In terms of general preparation, Brinson has increased the amount of video he is watching to better understand what he’s doing right and wrong.

“Video is a big part of my offseason so far,” the Coral Springs, Fla., native said. “Obviously, you feel how your body is moving. But sometimes you can’t feel that you’re doing something wrong. So I’m looking at video. Obviously, video gives you feedback, visually.”

The Marlins have shown patience with Brinson since he was the centerpiece of the Christian Yelich trade with the Brewers before the 2018 season. Harrison, Díaz and right-hander Jordan Yamamoto also were part of that deal.

Brinson never got anything going in 2019, and he was sent to Triple-A New Orleans after a slow start. There, Brinson showed flashes of why he once was a Top 100 prospect, hitting .270/.361/.510 with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs in 81 games.

Whatever successes he had at Triple-A didn’t transfer to the big leagues.

Brinson was back with the Marlins over the final two months of the season, but his power never emerged, because he never found balance at the plate.

According to Statcast, his average exit velocity decreased to 86.1 mph, below the MLB average of 88.1 mph. In 2018, Brinson's average exit velo was 89.2 mph.

Brinson’s hard-hit percentage was 32.9 percent, well below the 39.2 percent it was in 2018, when he batted .199 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs.

“I’m just trying to get my swing consistent where I get my muscle memory there,” Brinson said. “I’m trying to hit line drives to the back of the cage every time.

“It’s more of hitting, looking at video to see what I can clean up, looking at video from the season, seeing what I can clean up there. Just trying to be consistent and getting my body in the right position every single time.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.