JUPITER, Fla. -- The production was evident throughout Spring Training for Lewis Brinson, but whether he would make the Marlins' Opening Day roster wasn't completely clear until Sunday.Shortly before Miami closed out its Grapefruit League schedule against the Astros, Brinson was called into manager Don Mattingly's office and learned that
JUPITER, Fla. -- The production was evident throughout Spring Training for Lewis Brinson, but whether he would make the Marlins' Opening Day roster wasn't completely clear until Sunday.
Shortly before Miami closed out its Grapefruit League schedule against the Astros, Brinson was called into manager Don Mattingly's office and learned that he made the squad. First baseman/outfielder Garrett Cooper was also informed he was on the team.
"Donnie told me, 'Congrats, but the work doesn't stop here,'" Brinson said. "He said, 'We're trying to win, and win as many games as we can.'"
A native of Coral Springs, Fla., Brinson grew up rooting for the Marlins. Now, on Opening Day on Thursday against the Cubs at Marlins Park, the 23-year-old will be playing in his first big league opener. He will wear No. 9 in honor of his favorite player, former Miami outfielder Juan Pierre.
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"Camp is about competition," Mattingly said. "We think both of those guys earned a spot."
Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, Brinson also is the 27th-rated prospect on the Top 100 list.
The new Marlins center fielder said he is ready to make the leap from prospect to big league standout.
"I take this opportunity and run with it," Brinson said. "Very humbling. First Opening Day, and I'm very happy about that. Very excited to be playing on Thursday."
Brinson made the decision for the organization an easy one. He went 19-for-58 (.328) with two home runs and nine RBIs.
The Marlins haven't set their Opening Day lineup, but Brinson has a good chance to lead off and be in center field.
Acquired from the Brewers in January as part of the Christian Yelich trade, Brinson appeared in 21 games for Milwaukee last year. In a small sample size, he hit .106/.236/.277 with two home runs and three RBIs.
At Triple-A, he batted .331/.400/.562 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs.
Entering Spring Training, Brinson had no guarantee of making the club. But he was a standout from start to finish.
"I'm happy with myself," Brinson said. "To stay humble and not assume anything. I'd been through plenty of assuming deals, and things went left for me. I've stayed focused this spring and worked on what I needed to work on. I'm thankful it worked in my favor. To play in my first Opening Day, I'm very humbled by it."
At one point, Brinson and Cooper were together in Milwaukee. Cooper, 27, now will be on his first Opening Day big league roster.
A year ago, Cooper was with the Yankees, and he came to the Marlins in a Minor League deal with New York last November.
Like Brinson, Cooper was called into the office and informed he would be with the Marlins and not be headed to Triple-A New Orleans.
Cooper hit .296 in Spring Training with three home runs. With the Yankees last year, he appeared in 13 games and hit .326 with five doubles and six RBIs.
"They just said, 'You're coming with us to Miami,'" Cooper said. "'You'll play all over, first, left, right. If someone needs a day off.'"
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.