Lewis Brinson felt perfectly home when he landed in Denver early this week after an eight-game road trip.
Not only is the top Sky Sox prospect settling into his new digs here in the Rockies, but he was also joined at baggage claim by his former teammates from Round Rock who were waiting at the same carousel for their bags.
Brinson played with many Express players through his climb in the minor leagues before a trade last summer brought him into Milwaukee’s system.
“It’s fun seeing familiar faces,” Brinson said. “But I’m getting used to the Brewers and their ways now and I’m pretty settled in over here. It is still weird seeing those guys on the other side of the field.”
Brinson shouldn’t get too comfortable.
Plagued by minor injuries this season – a dislocated pinkie suffered in the opener, a sprained ankle, a pitch to the hand – that haven’t cost him must time but have limited his effectiveness in stretches, Brinson is healthy. And mashing.
He hit a pair of home runs June 1. On Monday he pounded three hits, including a double. He had three more hits Tuesday. Through the first six games in June he posted a slash line of .400/.444/.680.
It’s no coincidence that he’s heated up along with the weather. The Florida native readily admits to being “sick of the cold and rain,” and has enjoyed recent trips to humid climates.
But health is likely the bigger factor.
“Each time it’s taken him a few games to get his swing back,” Colorado Springs Sky Sox manager Rick Sweet said. “The past few games you can see him getting his swing back again. He’s had it a couple times. He was up to .330 a while. He can hit. He can play. He’s a very good player.”
Brinson entered Wednesday batting .319/.402/.513 with six home runs, 23 RBIs and seven stolen bases.
“You try to stay consistent,” the 23-year-old center fielder said. “Getting hit in the hand and dislocating my pinkie, it’s not the easiest thing to get a feel for the bat. But I’ve found a way to stay consistent and stick with my routine, not get ahead of myself and do too much and try to hit home runs. It’s worked out pretty good so far.”
The Brewers had a chance to call for Brinson early this week when Travis Shaw was placed on paternity leave. Instead, fellow outfielder Brett Phillips drew the call. The move was made in part because the Brewers wanted a left-handed bat – Phillips started immediately against the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, drawing a hit. But there’s also the thinking that a prospect like Brinson should only be called up when it’s with the intention of making it stick.
“I’m so happy for Brett,” Brinson said. “He’s been in this organization a lot longer than I have. He’s a great player, as you can see. A lot of power. Very energetic guy. We all love him. He keeps it loose. I wish nothing best for the guy while he’s up there. Hopefully he can stick up there and I hope we can play together up there for a really long time.”
Some of Brinson’s old teammates, visiting his new town, speak of him in the same terms.
“What makes it a lot more fun is that he’s a really good guy,” said Round Rock’s Drew Robinson, who proudly claims to have slightly better speed than Brinson. “That makes it a lot more fun for myself and the people who root for him.
“I think over the years, like most players, he’s just become more polished. You learn what you’re good at and what you can do on a consistent basis. I think he’s finding his way… fast. It seems like he plays above the game right now, so it’s fun to watch. Just not when you’re playing against him.”