Rangers' Brinson shows off versatility in AFL victory
Club's No. 4 prospect collects pair of hits, RBI and stolen base for Surprise
SALT RIVER, Ariz. -- Few prospects are capable of impacting a game in as many different ways as Lewis Brinson.
After failing to collect a hit in his first two games in the Fall League, Brinson has put together an eight-game hitting streak during which he's batting .310 with five extra-base hits and five RBIs.
"I'm feeling great," Brinson said after the game. "I'm just trying to build off the season I had and not change anything."
And what a season it was.
Brinson has showcased his collection of loud and projectable tools since the Rangers selected him with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2012 Draft. But it wasn't until this past season that things began to come together for the 21-year-old outfielder.
Brinson put up big numbers at Class A Advanced High Desert during the first half of the season and earned a well-deserved promotion to Double-A Frisco at the end of July. It might have come even sooner had he not spent a month on the disabled list, from May 1 to June 5.
The Coral Springs (Fla.) High product needed just 28 games in the Texas League to prove he was ready for a greater challenge, and so the Rangers decided to promote him to Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 31, ahead of the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
"It meant a lot," he said. "When I got to Double-A and then went up to Triple-A for the playoffs, I was elated. I knew that it meant I'm really close to the big leagues."
Between his three stops, Brinson posted a robust .332/.403/.601 batting line with 20 home runs, 31 doubles, eight triples, 74 runs scored, 69 RBIs and 18 steals in exactly 100 games.
"I stayed relaxed and didn't worry about what I couldn't control," said Brinson, reflecting on what led to his breakout campaign.
"I finally trusted myself this year. Not that I didn't before -- it was more about getting the experience: the more pitches you see and the more at-bats you have, the better you get at it."
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-3, 170-pound outfielder hasn't skipped a beat in the Arizona Fall League. Brinson raised his batting average to .273 with his multihit effort on Tuesday, although that doesn't properly reflect how well he's swung the bat.
"I've had a lot of at-bats so far in the Fall League where I've hit balls hard but right at people, but I'm happy with that," he said. "Those are good at-bats in my book."
Brinson also has continued to showcase his high-end blend of power and speed, highlighted by five extra-base hits and four steals in 10 games for the Saguaros.
Lucas Sims, the Braves' No. 7 prospect, fired three scoreless frames for Peoria, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three batters in what was easily his best Fall League start.
The 21-year-old right-hander showcased a lively fastball in the outing, operating at 93-96 mph while topping out at 97 on multiple occasions. Although the pitch is relatively straight, Sims demonstrated good feel for pitching to both sides of the plate, and he didn't shy away from working up in the zone when vying for whiffs. Sims also showed good feel for his secondary pitches in the outing, throwing his low-80s slider in a variety of counts before mixing in his changeup during his final inning of work.
Royals right-hander Brooks Pounders, fresh off being named AFL Pitcher of the Week, was equally impressive for the Saguaros, allowing one hit with four strikeouts over five scoreless innings. The 25-year-old has yielded five hits and is yet to allow a run in 12 innings spanning three starts, and he's now tied for the league lead with 14 strikeouts (and zero walks).
Shortstop Tyler Smith, a product of the Mariners' farm system, paced the Javelinas' offense in the loss, going 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Brewers No. 2 prospect (No. 32 overall) Brett Phillips collected two more hits including a double out of the leadoff spot for Surprise to improve his AFL batting average to .346.