Miami Marlins

Despite debacle, first career grand slam shows Marlins this rookie’s power potential

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20:  Lewis Brinson #9 of the Miami Marlins is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a grand slam in the fourth inning during the game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on May 20, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20: Lewis Brinson #9 of the Miami Marlins is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a grand slam in the fourth inning during the game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on May 20, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

The potential is there for Lewis Brinson.

The Marlins hope Lewis Brinson will find his rhythm at the plate sooner than later.

Brinson, Miami's promising rookie center fielder, gave another glimpse of his power stroke Sunday afternoon when he crushed a fastball from Julio Teheran for his first career grand slam during a six-run inning that still proved not to be enough in a disappointing 10-9 loss to the host Braves at SunTrust Park.

Still, Brinson's sixth home run in what's so far been a difficult season at the plate was a welcome sign for the Marlins.

"It was good to see," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Lewis is getting better and better. [Saturday], I thought were his best swings of the year as far as getting in position and having aggressive swings and to see that today and even the base hit, he’s able to fight that ball off instead of get caught in there. This is definitely encouraging with Lewis in the way he’s starting to move forward and hopefully he keeps riding that."

Brinson, who entered the game hitting .160 (24 of 150), crushed a 92.6 mph four-seam fastball from Braves' starter Julio Teheran into the second deck in left field – 450 feet according to Statcast – for the first grand slam by a Marlins’ rookie since his teammate, J.T. Realmuto hit one on August 12, 2015.

Brinson, a Coral Springs High alum acquired in the trade with the Brewers for Christian Yelich, has shown the ability to make hard contact such as Sunday's blast in fleeting moments throughout his first 44 games as a Marlin. The home run was tracked by Statcast as having a 113.2 mph exit velocity, which is his second-hardest behind a 114-mph home run he hit in Milwaukee on April 19.

"It was good, but we have to win that game though," Brinson said. "It’s a tough loss. It feels good to hit one hard and hit one out. But it doesn’t feel as good because we didn’t win the ballgame."

rojas.JPG
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins hits a two-run home run in the seventh inning during the game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on May 20, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

BREAK OUT SEASON

Brinson wasn’t the only player putting on a power display.

Miguel Rojas belted a pair of two-run home runs for his first career multi-homer game.

Rojas had not hit more than one home run in a season before 2018 and had only five in his career. The two on Sunday brought his season total to seven.

Rojas has credited some of the added burst to having the opportunity to play regularly as a starter for the first time in his career.

His first got the Marlins a pair of runs in the seventh after Derek Dietrich reached on a play in which the Braves committed two throwing errors to allow him to advance to third base.

After Atlanta again cut Miami’s lead to four, Rojas hit his second off lefty A.J. Minter in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I've been working my whole career," Rojas said. "Finally, I got the opportunity to play every day. I'm not going to get tired saying this, I never played every day in the big leagues before. I know what I'm capable of. This is my first opportunity to play every single day. I know have the capability to do this. In the Minors I did it. I had a couple of decent seasons. In the Minors, when I got the opportunity, I played well."

COMING UP

Monday: Miami Marlins RHP Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. New York Mets LHP Jason Vargas (0-3, 13.86), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.

Tuesday: Marlins LHP Caleb Smith (2-5, 4.22) vs. Mets RHP Zach Wheeler (2-3, 5.92), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.

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