MILWAUKEE -- Lewis Brinson appeared at No. 7 when MLB Pipeline unveiled its list of baseball's top outfield prospects on Thursday, an honor he would like very much to pass on to someone else by this time next year.The 23-year-old hopes this is the year he jumps from prospect lists
MILWAUKEE -- Lewis Brinson appeared at No. 7 when MLB Pipeline unveiled its list of baseball's top outfield prospects on Thursday, an honor he would like very much to pass on to someone else by this time next year.
The 23-year-old hopes this is the year he jumps from prospect lists to permanent status in Major League Baseball, which Brinson experienced briefly in 2017 during a stint with the Brewers. Whether he gets the opportunity depends in part on what moves Milwaukee GM David Stearns still has in store for the team's fluid outfield before Opening Day.
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For now, the situation is the same today as it was on the final day of last season. Ryan Braun is entrenched in left field on a contract that runs through at least 2020. Right fielder Domingo Santana is 25 and coming off 30 home runs and an .875 OPS. Brinson's best shot is center field, where the Brewers have right-handed hitter Keon Broxton coming off a strikeout-marred 20-homer, 20-stolen base campaign and left-handed hitter Brett Phillips having distinguished himself with a strong September.
Brinson, meanwhile, is still waiting to make his mark.
"I got up here and was super-excited, obviously, being in the big leagues for the first time in my career, getting that callup," he said in September, when the Brewers named him their Minor League Player of the Year. "But you've got to tell yourself it's still baseball, you're still playing a kid's game, you've still got to have fun. Up here it's a little bit different, obviously, with the big stadiums, you're on TV every day. I had to tell myself to relax and keep playing like you're playing in Little League."
In the Minors, Brinson was once again a stud in 2017, slashing .331/.400/.562 with 39 extra-base hits in 299 at-bats for Triple-A Colorado Springs to edge a number of other players, including Triple-A teammate Phillips, for Milwaukee's Minor League honor.
But Brinson was unable to capitalize on two stints in the Majors. He went 5-for-47 with a triple, two home runs and 17 strikeouts before being optioned back to Triple-A, where Brinson's season ended in August because of a hamstring injury.
When he arrived at Miller Park to be honored alongside Minor League pitcher of the year Corbin Burnes, with the Brewers in the throes of a pennant race, Brinson called it "bittersweet."
"Very humbled to receive this award, but at the same time I'd really like to be up here and be playing," he said.
Perhaps 2018 will be the year.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.