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Brinson, Burnes honored as top Minor Leaguers

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Lewis Brinson's latest visit to Miller Park was "a little bit" bittersweet. He'd hoped to be part of the Brewers' chase for the Wild Card, but a season-ending hamstring injury in August dashed those hopes.

So Brinson, MLBPipeline.com's top Brewers prospect, was in street clothes when he arrived Tuesday to accept his Robin Yount Performance Award as the organization's Minor League Player of the Year. He was honored alongside pitcher of the year Corbin Burnes in a pregame ceremony before the Reds-Brewers game.

Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- Lewis Brinson's latest visit to Miller Park was "a little bit" bittersweet. He'd hoped to be part of the Brewers' chase for the Wild Card, but a season-ending hamstring injury in August dashed those hopes.

So Brinson, MLBPipeline.com's top Brewers prospect, was in street clothes when he arrived Tuesday to accept his Robin Yount Performance Award as the organization's Minor League Player of the Year. He was honored alongside pitcher of the year Corbin Burnes in a pregame ceremony before the Reds-Brewers game.

Full Game Coverage

"Coming in here and seeing all the guys again and they're in the middle of the playoff race, it's definitely bittersweet," Brinson said. "Very humbled to receive this award, but at the same time, I'd really like to be up here and be playing."

Brinson was up in the Majors twice this season but went 5-for-47, including his first two Major League home runs. It was a different story at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where Brinson batted .331 with 22 doubles, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .962 OPS in 76 games.

Video: MIL@WSH: Statcast™ measures Brinson's 441-foot homer

Brinson beat a crowded field to win the organization's top honor.

"It was a very hard choice. Legitimately, there were three or four guys who were considered -- Brett Phillips, Monte Harrison, even Troy Stokes," said Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan, who added Jake Gatewood to the list of contenders. "There were some other guys, too. It was a really tough choice and you couldn't go wrong.

"In the end, we kind of deferred to Lewis because coming into the year, he had that status where everyone was kind of watching. … He was a difference-maker on both sides of the ball in Triple-A."

Brinson's season ended Aug. 14, when he sustained a left hamstring injury running to first base. Brinson has been rehabbing at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, hitting in the cage and tracking live pitching to keep his eye sharp. He will play for the Brewers' instructional league team when he is ready.

If Brinson was a hard choice for the top player honor, Burnes, the Brewers' No. 7 prospect, was an easy one among pitchers. The 22-year-old, taken in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft, went 8-3 with a 1.67 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 26 starts between Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. His ERA ranked third among qualifying pitchers at all levels of the Minors.

"One thing he does is he kind of pitches with anger," Flanagan said. "He's kind of angry on the mound a little bit. [Brandon] Woodruff was that way at times in the past. Not that they're angry guys, by any means, but on the mound, they are real competitors. That's something you can't really teach on the development side."

Coaches did play a role, however. Burnes cited a mechanical change that began in Spring Training to get his body more square to the plate and better involve his legs. The result, Burnes said, was improved command.

"I was able to, from opening day to the end of the year, just stay consistent," Burnes said. "That was the biggest thing for me, was to go out every day and give it what I had. Some days I didn't have certain pitches working and the command wasn't great every day, but I just wanted to keep my head on straight and continue to play the way I did."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Milwaukee Brewers, Lewis Brinson