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Speedy Brinson flourishing in center field

Despite offensive struggles, OF making tough plays look easy
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- Hitters are often hot and cold, but playing defense can be a constant. Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson is off to a slow start at the plate, but the rookie has quietly been among the top defensive outfielders in the Majors.

According to Statcast™, Brinson's combined eight four- and five-star catches rank second in the Majors to Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields.

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MIAMI -- Hitters are often hot and cold, but playing defense can be a constant. Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson is off to a slow start at the plate, but the rookie has quietly been among the top defensive outfielders in the Majors.

According to Statcast™, Brinson's combined eight four- and five-star catches rank second in the Majors to Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields.

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"I think the mental side of it is as a big thing," Brinson said. "I go with the mentality, 'If I'm not getting any hits, nobody is getting any hits.' If I have the ability to take away a run or save a run for my teammates, that's something I'm going to try to do, especially if I line out to somebody. If somebody lines to me, I want to catch it."

Video: MIA@SD: Brinson covers 27.9 ft/sec on diving catch

Brinson has seven four-star catchers, which are the most in the Majors. Four-star grabs are catches on balls that have a 26-50 percent catch probability. He also has one five-star catch, which has a 0-24 percent catch probability.

"You're trying to build the complete player, right?" Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "The defense, we talked about it with him. He made a couple of errors -- one in San Diego and one in Arizona. But overall, he's been tremendous out in center field."

The Marlins have been extremely patient with the rookie from Coral Springs, Fla., one of the organization's cornerstone young players.

Video: MIA@STL: Brinson rips 2 home runs vs. Cardinals

"Obviously, there are things you want him to work on, but he's been pretty remarkable out there," Mattingly said. "He covers a lot of ground in the outfield. He's got good closing speed. He's got a good arm. He can hold guys. It's definitely something that we watch."

Brinson works regularly with outfield coach Fredi Gonzalez on reading when to go back or come in on fly balls. He also ranks fourth among all qualified outfielders with 10 Defensive Runs Saved. The leader is Brett Gardner of the Yankees with 14, followed by Lorenzo Cain of the Brewers and the Reds' Adam Duvall, each with 12.

"I've always taken pride in my defense," said Brinson. "It's fun for me out there. The whole game is fun, but I've always been good at defense. I love taking away runs, getting dirty, diving, robbing hits, robbing home runs."

Video: SF@MIA: Brinson rips RBI triple off wall after review

Brinson has had his ups and downs as a rookie, especially at the plate, where his slash line is .168/.214/.314 along with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. He had a big night on Monday in Miami's win over the Giants, driving in runs off Madison Bumgarner with a triple and a single.

As part of Brinson's development at the big league level, the Marlins have been giving the rookie a day off each series to work on his swing and overall game. Because of that, he wasn't in the starting lineup on Tuesday, though he took part in batting practice and worked on fielding fly balls. He pinch-hit for reliever Adam Conley in the seventh inning of the 3-1 win over the Giants and flied out, then stayed in the game at center.

"A lot of it is instincts, but I'm out there with Fredi sometimes, working on going back," Brinson said. "Just trusting my speed, my ability and my instincts, and kind of react to everything."

Worth noting

Reliever Brad Ziegler and Pastime for Patriots are teaming up with Operation Shower to host a baby shower for 30 military moms-to-be on Wednesday afternoon from 12-2 p.m. ET at Marlins Park. The shower will assist expectant mothers whose spouses are on active duty.

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

Miami Marlins, Lewis Brinson