Newly acquired Brewers CF Lewis Brinson has superstar level tools that have been undermined throughout his career by excessive strikeouts. A mechanical tweak in 2015 looked like it had unlocked his prodigious potential and he hit .332/.403/.601 across three levels of the minors before a brief but impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League. Brinson’s 2016 season has not gone as well. Mired by a shoulder injury that forced him out of action for about a month, Brinson has hit just .233 this year and his walk rate has completely evaporated.
I think Brinson has 30 homer potential if he can stay healthy, but that’s a real if. He hasn’t played in more than 100 games since 2013, suffering from the shoulder injury this year, a hamstring issue last year, and a quad issue prior to that.
The mechanical changes Brinson has made over the past 18 months or so are substantive. He began loading his hands lower which enabled him to cut down on the distance his bat needs to travel to re-enter the hitting zone. He’s so physically gifted that he can still generate terrific bat speed in that shorter distance and this change also enabled Brinson’s natural bat control to play with more regularity. I’ve seen him hit homers despite failing to fully extend and I think Brinson has plus game power projection. Reports of late are that Brinson’s hands are loading higher again and that he’s become a little long back to the ball.
He’s also a plus runner who projects to plus center field and has a plus arm. Even if what appeared to be a remedied issue last season turns out to be a mirage, the power projection and defensive profile are enough to create big league value. If Brinson one day figures out what made him so successful last season and is able to recreate it, he’s a perennial All Star. I think this is an excellent buy low for the Brewers.
I surely can’t be the first to compare Luis Ortiz’s build to that of Rich Garces, and I won’t be the last, for it is apt. Ortiz is 6-foot-3 and pushing 250 and obviously lacks any modicum of physical projection, but his stuff is already excellent. Ortiz will sit 93-96 and touch 97 from the windup. He loses some velocity from the stretch and he is less able to use his considerable mass to generate velocity, but it’s a plus fastball with some movement that Ortiz can throw for strikes. His slider is above average and projects to plus. It sits in the 83-85 range but I’ve seen it up to 87. Ortiz’s changeup is less consistent but is already average and projects above, with late downward action and good arm speed.
It’s mid-rotation stuff and plenty of strike throwing ability. Some are concerned about Ortiz’s build, but it hasn’t hindered his strike throwing ability or stuff. He has had some minor injury issues, including a forearm injury during his senior year of high school and a flexor strain last year.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.