While he wasn't the Rangers draft pick to make the most noise in 2012, that honor belongs to Joey Gallo and his 22 home runs, Lewis Brinson just might have the biggest ceiling in the Texas system. Selected 29th overall in the amateur draft, Brinson was thought to be a toolshed who might just have no idea how to play the game. Brinson showed up to the rookie league with more baseball instincts than most anticipated. This didn't change his sky high ceiling, but it did make it seem like more of a possibility. This much was clear: Lewis Brinson was no Jordan Akins.
Statistically there's not a ton to go on. Brinson racked up 265 plate appearances in the rookie level Arizona League, producing a .283/.345/.523 slash line. That's a solid line for anyone, but for someone expect to be sushi level raw when it came to baseball skills, it certainly opened eyes. Throw in 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts and we're looking at a complete fantasy package if it all comes together. In fact, we're looking at a complete player from any standpoint if it all comes together.
The chances of the that are remote of course, but what are prospectors if not dreamers? To dream on Lewis Brinson is to dream of one of the best players in the game. He's got a multiple all-star level ceiling. He's a dynamic athlete who, if anything, could add a little weight. His athleticism allows him to thrive not in a corner outfield spot, but in centerfield where his plus arm plays extremely well. He's working on routes and positioning and if he gets those down, he's a possible gold glove outfielder. Brinson shows big raw power and can put on a show in BP. The slugging percentage was quite good in rookie ball, but as he progresses, he should start turning doubles into home runs. His swing can be a bit long, no surprise for someone standing 6'3, but he has quick hands and good bat speed which can cover up a long swing in the lower levels. He's received only good reports in regards to makeup, so while he has a long way to go as a prospect, putting in the work won't be an issue with him.
Below I've attached some footage I got of Brinson while I was in Arizona in March:
Lewis Brinson (via Craig Goldstein)
You can see there is some noise in his set up, but on the ball that he hits for a single, it's clear how well he can use he hands to turn on an inside pitch. While he made up for the length in his swing on that pitch, better location and higher velocities would likely expose it. Adjustments are a part of every prospects game, and will be very important Brinson's continued success.
Brinson will begin 2013 at Lo-A Hickory as part of a prospect laden roster. While he is a high risk prospect, I'm all in on Brinson. I think he becomes the crown jewel of the Rangers system as soon as 2014. When it comes to fantasy, well rounded players are worth the most. Brinson has 30/30 potential, the ability to stick at CF (for leagues where that matters), and enough talent that if he falls short in certain areas, he won't be a complete bust. How much power he hits for might well depend on the utility of his hit tool. It's the hardest tool to project and the most questionable one in his belt, but if it comes along...watch out. Patience is of the utmost importance with a prospect like this, so I worry that I'm hyping him too hard. All I can do is tell you what I think of players though, and I'm a big believer in Lewis Brinson.