Lewis Brinson Excels With Mother's Encouragement
Growing up in South Florida, it was Lewis Brinson's dream to continue his baseball career in Coral Gables for the University of Miami. He visited the campus, met the coaching staff and was ready to make his decision. But Brinson's mother, Susie, urged her son to keep his options open and check out other schools. The two ventured north to Gainesville and things changed.
"I had a visit with Florida," Brinson said. "As soon as I walked on campus it was done. It was Gators this and Gators that. There was a Gators gas station right when we got off the interstate. I fell in love with the school. Coach (Kevin) O'Sullivan is the nicest guy I know. He's serious about winning and that was my main goal in finding a school."
While Miami may be heartbroken over Brinson committing to Florida, he's still far from a sure bet to make it to campus. A long-legged, physical specimen, Brinson has excellent athleticism and looks like a big leaguer when he steps on the field. At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, he looks like Cameron Maybin or Dexter Fowler with a tapered frame and plenty of room to add strength. Given his physique and set of tools, the Gators may end up heartbroken as well if the chance to play pro ball becomes too tempting.
"As far as a player goes, he's about as complete as you can have," Coral Springs head coach Frank Bumbales said. "He is very strong with all five tools. There's a couple aspects he is still working on, but his overall game is very strong. He has one of the fastest bats I've seen. You can hear the sound of the ball off of his bat and know it's him swinging."
Scouting high school players is all about projection, so breaking down what prospects need to work on to get better usually results in a long list. They all need to get stronger and find consistency. Brinson knows this as well as anybody, and he is focused on one aspect that scouts would likely echo. His strength and long limbs produce plenty of power, but he is prone to swinging and missing.
"I can get a lot better at everything," Brinson said. "I've been trying to work on my swing getting more consistent the last few weeks. I try not to be a pull hitter all the time. The power is there, but the average is inconsistent."
Hearing that from an 18-year-old is proof of maturity and how meaningless high school stats can be to scouts. In 20 regular season games, Brinson hit .393/.526/.754 with four home runs, 21 RBIs, 20 runs and 10 stolen bases. But like Brinson said, the power is there. He put on a display at the Under Armour All-America Game last summer, blasting balls out of Wrigley Field to beat fellow outfielder Byron Buxton in the home run derby.
"That was really crazy," Brinson said of his summer experience. "All the tournaments I went to, it brought my game to another level."
The only thing bigger than Brinson's love for baseball is his relationship with his mother. Susie Brinson first got her son into baseball when he was 4 years old, signing him up for Little League. They have always been close, and they have relied on each other more since Brinson's father, Lewis Jr., died of lung cancer just after Lewis III turned 11.
"She's been the biggest help in my life," Brinson said. "When I lost my dad, she stepped in. She's taken time off of work to travel with me. She's taken phone calls for me. She's probably taking one right now. She's been everything. I hope one day I can repay her."
Susie Brinson's influence has helped her son on the field, but motivated him off of it as well. He carries a GPA around 3.3 and is all business in school.
"He's a very nice kid," Bumbales said. "He's very respectful and articulate. He was never in any trouble when I was teaching. If it weren't for who he is with baseball, the administration wouldn't know him."
Brinson says baseball motivates him in the classroom, because he knows if he doesn't have the grades, he can't play. He's interested in sports business and journalism and wants to be a baseball analyst one day, but for now he'll concentrate on honing his game to be like Torii Hunter in his prime or Andrew McCutchen—two center fielders he admires.
"When (Hunter) was with the Twins, nothing dropped," he said. "McCutchen makes it look so easy out there."
Brinson's goal for his final high school season is to win a state championship, but on the horizon is the decision to sign a pro contract or chase a College World Series title with Florida. Somebody will be disappointed, but someone else, including Brinson and his family, will be excited.