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Brinson getting plenty of time to prove readiness

Marlins evaluating whether top prospect is ready to be Opening Day regular
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- When it comes to speed, power, arm strength and athleticism, Lewis Brinson checks all the boxes. Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, the 23-year-old is a physical presence.

Brinson also is one of the centerpieces the Marlins are building around, but whether he is ready to be a big-league fixture will be determined over the next four weeks. There's no doubting the raw potential, but the Marlins want to make sure their top prospect is completely ready. If not, he likely will start off at Triple-A New Orleans.

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JUPITER, Fla. -- When it comes to speed, power, arm strength and athleticism, Lewis Brinson checks all the boxes. Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, the 23-year-old is a physical presence.

Brinson also is one of the centerpieces the Marlins are building around, but whether he is ready to be a big-league fixture will be determined over the next four weeks. There's no doubting the raw potential, but the Marlins want to make sure their top prospect is completely ready. If not, he likely will start off at Triple-A New Orleans.

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That's why it's not by accident that Brinson is seeing regular playing time early in Grapefruit League games. The Marlins are giving every him every opportunity to prove he belongs.

Video: STL@MIA: Brinson lays out for a tough grab in debut

"Obviously, I want to make this team, and I have to do everything in my power to make it," Brinson said. "But I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. Just trying to hit some balls hard, and make the plays out there, and see where camp takes me."

Brinson on Wednesday gave another glimpse of why he's so touted. In the second inning, he scorched a liner into the left-center-field gap off Washington's Tanner Roark for a double at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. And in the fourth inning, he floated a two-strike single to right off Shawn Kelley. But he was overly aggressive on the bases, and was picked off.

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"We're allowing him to get comfortable, and see what it looks like," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's really no different from anyone else. You want to see what it looks like."

Acquired from the Brewers in the Christian Yelich deal, Brinson is rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 27 prospect in the game. The Coral Springs, Fla., native got a taste of the big leagues in 2017, appearing in 21 games.

In camp, Brinson isn't putting pressure on himself. He's letting his talents take over.

"I'm just playing within myself, and not trying to do too much," he said. "I belong in the big leagues. I know that. I know that for a fact. I belong up here, and all the hard work I've put in has been to prepare me for up here."

Video: STL@MIA: Brinson rips a double for first Marlins hit

But to stamp his ticket to the big leagues, the Marlins are evaluating all aspects of his game. Spring Training numbers can be deceiving. So the organization is watching his approach, the quality of his at-bats and how his swing looks.

Brinson was a standout at Triple-A last year, hitting .331/.400/.562 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs.

"We know he's had a lot of success at the Triple-A level, and we're trying to determine if he's ready to compete at the Major League level," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We have a number of players in that boat, and we're going to give them every opportunity to show what they can do."

Brinson had 55 plate appearances with the Brewers last year, and had a strikeout rate of 30.9 percent. To improve his contract rate, Brinson is constantly working on his swing in the cages and batting practice.

"That's why we put the work in the cage, to make our swing efficient and consistent," Brinson said. "That's been a big pet peeve of mine. I know I have the power. I know I can hit. It's just being consistent, running out every day and putting together good at-bats is my ultimate goal in spring."

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