Miami Marlins

Persistence and discipline helping Marlins’ Lewis Brinson gradually solve hitting woes

Miami Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, right, celebrates after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Miami Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, right, celebrates after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Marlins have kept their faith in Lewis Brinson throughout a tough rookie season.

Brinson is rewarding their patience.

It’s been a difficult grind for Brinson, the Marlins’ promising center fielder who has flashed one of the best defensive gloves in baseball at the position this year.

But has he finally figured it out in June?

Brinson is hitting .302 in 14 games this month with three home runs, 10 RBI and three triples and seven extra-base hits.

Two of those triples came Friday night when Brinson helped the Marlins beat the Orioles 2-0 and recorded the eighth instance in team history where a player tripled twice in a game.

Brinson entered the month hitting .152 over his first 54 games.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Brinson said. “Obviously I got off to a slow start. But I was starting to pick it up a little bit, consistently getting myself in a ready position to try to hit every pitch hard. Keep my bat in the zone longer. It’s just consistent work, muscle memory, getting myself in the right position consistently. And it's paid off so far.”

Brinson, the biggest name in the trade the Marlins made earlier this year when they dealt Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers for four players, was putting together quality at-bats even before the results began to improve.

Brinson hit both of his triples Friday off Orioles’ starter Kevin Gausman. On the first, Brinson fell behind 0-2 in the count right after Gausman had struck out the previous three batters. Brinson was ready though when a 96.9 mph fastball ran inside and he lined it at 104 mph to the centerfield wall.

The second time with two outs in the sixth, Brinson was ahead in the count 2-0, stayed patient and two pitches later roped a 94.3 mph fastball into the right-center field gap at 106 mph to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

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Miami Marlins' Lewis Brinson triples in front of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia (2) and Marlins third base coach Fredi Gonzalez in the second inning of a baseball game, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“We’ve talked about plate discipline with Lewis and he’s not chasing near as much and he’s handling the ball over the plate a lot better,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Adjusting to major-league pitching has been a slow process for Brinson. But his persistence has begun showing results. Brinson knows the process will continue for him throughout the season.

The Marlins have also shown patience believing he should continue working through his hitting struggles at the major-league level as opposed to sending him back to the minors.

“He’s coming along and to his credit, he’s worked with the guys in the cage and out tracking and doing everything we’ve asked,” Mattingly said. “And our [hitting coaches] Frankie [Menechino] and Pags [Mike Pagliarulo] have been real patient with him and to his credit his attitude has been great and he’s never really got down on himself.

“He’s confident he was going to come out of this and he’s starting to look like the true player we know we have.”

Brinson has shown it on defense with 11 defensive runs saved this season – the most by any center fielder in baseball.

If his bat can catch up, the Marlins players are starting to see how much it could energize their young lineup.

“We all see the talent there, and I think everyone does,” Brian Anderson said. “He’s an incredible ball player. You’re seeing him putting really good swings on the ball. His approach is getting better and he’s starting to swing at better pitches. It’s exciting to see because I think we all know what kind of player he’s going to be.”