Roughriders Showcase Rangers Next Big Thing
FRISCO—At this time in 2015, Ranger fans were abuzz about top prospect Joey Gallo playing for Double-A Frisco. Well, after mashing his way through the Texas League in 2015, a short run in Arlington, a stint with Triple-A Round Rock and a return to the majors in September, Gallo is back in Round Rock.
The Roughriders, however, have the Rangers’ latest next big thing in young outfielder Lewis Brinson.
Currently the Rangers’ No. 3 prospect according to mlb.com, Brinson is 21. He divided 2015 between High-Single A High Desert of the California League (.337, 13 HR, 42 RBI, 1.044 OPS in 64 games), Frisco (.291-6-23-.873 in 28 games) and Round Rock (.433 in eight games). But Brinson is starting 2016 back in the Texas League with the ‘Riders and couldn’t be happier.
“Oh, it’s awesome [to be back here],” Brinson said during media day on Tuesday. “This park is beautiful. This town is awesome. There’s always stuff to do, plenty of places to eat. That videoboard, I’m staring at it right now, it’s awesome. It gets pretty crowded here for games and it’s awesome.”
Brinson spent spring training in big-league camp with the Rangers out in Surprise, Arizona and played in Texas’ final spring game, on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians, at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
In that game, one where he came off the bench, “Lew” delivered two stellar diving catches in center field, perhaps even serving notice that someday soon he will be patrolling center in Arlington.
“That was awesome. Obviously, that’s where I want to be. That was an awesome feeling, to get on a big-league field. It wasn’t a capacity crowd, but it was enough to kind of get my jitters going and kind of get adrenaline going even though those games didn’t mean anything,” Brinson said. “But that stadium’s awesome. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait to be there.”
But for now, he’s back in Frisco playing in a stadium he knows well and for a manager he knows well in Joe Mikulik, who he called the best manager he’s had to date in pro ball.
Mikulik sees plenty to like in Brinson, but there is also one area he’d like to improve. “I think his overall game can always be polished. I can go immediately on the bases, the fear of getting thrown out, I think he needs to elevate his aggressiveness,” Mikulik said. “That’s something we’re going to work on early in the season. We want him to steal bases, we want him to be a factor on the bases because of his speed. We’re working on being efficient, gain ground, get him to be more comfortable and make precise decisions when he’s on the bases.”
One of Brinson’s best friends in the Ranger organization is fellow outfield prospect Nomar Mazara, Texas’ No. 3 prospect who is starting the year in Round Rock.
But Brinson sees him and Mazara sharing the outfield again soon, but it might not be in Triple-A. “Nomar’s awesome. It would be great to play with him again [in Round Rock], but hopefully we’re playing again together in the big leagues. That’s my ultimate goal,” Brinson said.