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Approach Is Everything For Lewis Brinson

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Lewis Brinson went home last offseason determined to make a change.

After batting .199 with a 30 percent strikeout rate in his rookie season, the Marlins outfielder knew things could not continue as they were.

He hit the cages hard—“I kind of lived in the cage almost,” he quipped—but it wasn’t in a quest for a swing change. For Brinson, what he needed to alter was his approach.

“I did my homework, did my research and tried to find myself a little bit,” said Brinson, who entered last year ranked No. 18 on the BA Top 100 Prospects list. “This offseason it was just more about approach. Just trying to stay up the middle, the other way. Try and lengthen my swing out a little bit and keep my bat in the zone a long time. Nothing real major. More approach than anything.”

Brinson, the top prospect the Marlins acquired in the Christian Yelich trade, showcased what’s changed in the Marlins’ 14-6 loss to the Mets on Wednesday. He hit two mammoth home runs, including one that clanked off the scoreboard at First Data Field. But as notable as the home runs themselves was the leadup to them.

In Brinson’s first at-bat, he took a first-pitch fastball low and inside from Mets lefthander Steven Matz to get ahead 1-0. Last year, low and inside was the location he swung at more than any other when facing lefties, and the spot he whiffed the most too, according to Baseball Savant.

With his altered approach this year, Brinson instead took the pitch to get ahead and forced Matz to come into him with a fastball over the plate. Brinson didn’t miss it, launching Matz’s 94 mph offering deep beyond the fence in left-center.

In Brinon’s second at-bat, he again got ahead 1-0 by laying off of another inside fastball, this time from righthander Walker Lockett. Lockett again had to come into Brinson, left a hanging curveball over the plate, and Brinson sent it halfway up the scoreboard.

Last year, Brinson was likely to swing at both of the first pitches, putting himself in a disadvantageous count from that start and changing the entire makeup of the at-bat.

Now, he’s putting himself in a better position to succeed with his new approach, and the early results are showing it. He’s 4-for-9 with three home runs and a double to start spring training.

It’s still the early part of spring and there is a long way to go, but Brinson knows if he can stick with his new approach, he has a prime opportunity for a bounceback year.

“Now it’s just translate my approach that I have into the season,” Brinson said. “Same pitchers out there, brighter lights, but it’s still baseball. I’m just going to take this approach I have in spring and take it into the season.”

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